Calcutta HC sets aside Mamata govt’s restrictions on Durga idol immersion, wants separate routes for Muharram

The high court in Calcutta on Thursday halted a controversial West Bengal government project that has restricted the Durga Puja Idol of Muharram, rather than calling the administration to ensure proper planning to avoid shocks at the biggest state party.

A division bank Rakesh Tiwari and Harish Tandon led the state government to outline independent routes for Muhammad’s immersion of idols and processions and ensure that they do not overlap. The court also stated that dumping could take place without restriction on 30 September (Dashami) and 1 October (Muharram).

“The police must take immediate steps to ensure law and order if there are signs of problems,” said the director, informing the Director General of Police and the Commissioners and the police promotion of law and order. The state government has banned idol-like immersion beyond 10 hours on September 30, the last day of the five-day festival, and on October 1, due to Muharam.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the restrictions were necessary to maintain law and order when tens of thousands of people were taken to the streets. The court also stated that the puja organizers had to reach the dive points at midnight every day.

“The Muharram dive routes and tajias must be marked separately. Separate roads must be widely available,” said Sumit Chowdhury, a lawyer for the petitioners.

Banerjee has been repeatedly accused of appeasing minorities, especially by the BJP and the right elements, but remained defiant. At the opening of a Pandal Puja, he wondered why he had not been interrogated during the Durga Puja and Ganesh Puja festivities and only during the prayers.

On Wednesday, the court said the state could not interfere with a citizen’s right to practice religion that is based on a hypothesis of disruption of law and order and should provide good reasons for doing so. “That they (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them,” said Supreme Court President Rakesh Tiwary.

The court noted that the administration could exercise its power, but not indifferently. The court questioned the basis for the apprehension of public policy problems.

Judges said the one-day ban was the most advanced step and was similar to asking police to open fire on agitators without going through standard operating procedures first using water cannons, and then brandishing sticks.

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