The Calcutta High Court on Thursday struck down West Bengal government’s order prohibiting immersion of Durga idol after 10 PM on September 30 and October 1 on account of Muharram. In its order today, the court allowed the immersion of idol till 12 am on all days including Muharram. It also asked the police to ensure routes are designated for immersion and Tazia.
The order came a day after the High Court slammed the Mamta Banerjee government for hindering a citizen’s right to practise religion on the basis of a mere assumption of law and order disruption and said that it must provide sound reasons for doing so.
“Let them (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them,” Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary said, asking the government to provide a “concrete ground” for its decision. “People have the right to practise their religious activities, whichever community they may be of, and the State cannot put restrictions unless it has a concrete ground to believe that two communities cannot live together,” the acting chief justice said on Wednesday.
The West Bengal government in a notification issued last month, imposed restrictions on Durga idol immersion on September 30, the Vijaya Dashami day, after 6 PM and barred immersions on October 1, the day Muharram is scheduled to be observed. However, the government later clarified its position and modified the notification, allowing immersion till 10 pm on September 30. The immersion would resume on October 2 and continue till October 4, the order said.
The notification sparked a controversy in the state and the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and VHP accused the chief minister of indulging in appeasement politics. “The state government doesn’t have the right to decide when and how immersion will take place, it can only decide the routes for immersion. This administration, especially the chief minister, has no confidence in herself or in her administration. That’s why she is attacking our religious beliefs and introducing restrictions. If she has so little confidence, let her seek the Centre’s help,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
Mamata Banerjee, meanwhile, warned the right-wing organisations asking them not to “play with fire.” She also added that few “mischievous people” have conspired and “misled others by making incorrect statements.” “What we had said is on the day of ekadashi on October one there will be no immersions. Muharram, which is an occasion of mourning by the Muslim community, falls on the same date. Immersion will resume as usual from October two to four,” she said.