Trouble brewing in Bengal over Durga Puja, Muharram

August 24, 2017 10:08 pm | Updated August 25, 2017 12:15 pm IST - Kolkata

The BJP has said it will oppose Mamata’s decision that the immersion of Durga idol will not take place on Muharram.

The BJP has said it will oppose Mamata’s decision that the immersion of Durga idol will not take place on Muharram.

Following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement that the immersion of Durga idol will be taking place on October 2, 3 and 4, barring October 1 for Muharram, the day of mourning for Muslims, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that they would oppose the decision.

“The State government is trying to disrupt Durga idol immersion. Last year, there was a similar directive on account of Muharram. This year also, the Chief Minister has done the same,“ Dilip Ghosh, State president of BJP said on Thursday. “This is being done for Muslim appeasement and vote bank politics,” he said.

Mr. Ghosh said that like the previous year some people approach the Court and it will have major repercussions.

Senior State government officials said that the decision was taken in view of two considerations. “There were some problems last year following the overlapping of two religious events — Bijaya Dashami and Muharram — and this year too, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is planning a ‘ shastra puja ‘ [weapons worship] in the State on October 1,” a senior official said. Organisational secretary of VHP in West Bengal Sachindranath Singha said that VHP will be taking out rally with “traditional weapons” from various parts of the State on October 1, a day after Bijaya Dashmi, and would go to court if the rallies are obstructed.

“We will hold rallies with traditional weapons on Bijaya Dashami and if police obstruct the rallies, we would take legal recourse,” Mr. Singha said.

“Even though we have not yet decided how many rallies will be held and in which places, we are planning to hold such rallies in most of the districts,” Mr. Singha told The Hindu . Tuesday evening, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shared the details about this year’s Puja celebrations.

“This year, Durga Puja and Muharram fall on the same day. Except for a 24 hour period on the day of Muharram; Immersions can take place on October 2, 3 and 4,” Ms Banerjee said in a tweet. While seeking cooperation from the community puja organisers on the issue, Ms. Banerjee said that some people will try to indulge in some provocation for political gains.

Later, West Bengal police, in a series of tweets, urged the people not to believe in any rumours. “This year Durga Puja Immersion can take place on Sept 30, Oct 2, 3 & 4, except on 1st Oct being the Day of Muharram. Please do not believe any misinformation campaign,” tweeted West Bengal police.

Court’s intervention

In a similar situation in 2016, certain puja committees sought relief from Calcutta High Court. The Court extended the deadline set by the police for immersion of household idols on October 11, 2016 (Dashami) and had rapped the State government for imposing such restrictions on Dashami.

In one of the orders delivered on the matter, Justice Dipankar Datta of the Calcutta High Court had said that there was a “clear endeavour on the part of the State government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification.”

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