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In Varanasi, stalemate over idol immersion as organisers adamant on defying Allahabad HC order

Varanasi district magistrate (DM) Raj Mani Yadav said: “We have told the organisers that they have to respect the Allahabad High Court order.

By: Express News Service | Allahabad |
September 23, 2015 2:25:47 am
Ganesh Chaturthi festival, allahabad high court, idol immersion, allahabad idol immersion, allahabad ganesh idol immersion, lucknow news, india express Protesters raise slogans in Varanasi on Tuesday.( Express Photo)

A disagreement between the organisers of a Ganesh Chaturthi festival and the administration over the point of immersion for idol has led to a tense stalemate in Dashwashwamedha area of Varanasi since Monday evening. Some Hindu seers and, reportedly, activists of some pro-Hindu groups including Bajrang Dal, have joined the organisers demanding that they be allowed to immerse the idol in Ganga, despite the Allahabad High Court banning any such activity.

Senior officials, however, claimed that they were in constant talks with the organisers and were hoping to resolve the issue by providing them an alternative site “of their choice” for immersion. Heavy police force have been deployed in the area.

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As per the officials, Shri Kashi Maratha Ganesh Utsav Sewa Samiti (group of Marathis) took out a procession from Asbhairav near Maidagin on Monday evening to immerse the Ganesh idol following conclusion of Ganesh Chaturthi. “After reaching Godaulia, they insisted on going towards Ganga for the immersion. Administrative and police officials stopped them citing the Allahabad High Court order. They were given alternative choices, but they remained adamant,” said a senior official.

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Incidentally, Governor Ram Naik had attended the Samiti’s function on Sunday.

The organisers sat on a dharna, blocking the Maidagin-Godaulia Road. It was later closed for traffic to avoid any untoward situation. Soon, members of some other puja committees and pro-Hindu groups joined the protest.

Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle, who held talks with organisers on Monday, said: “I am clear in my stand that the High Court order should not be flouted. I tried to convince the organisers and I am still trying to convince them”.

He, however, blamed the “clearly” being “negligent” in allowing the procession to reach Godaulia.

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Swami Avimukteshwara-nanda, disciple of Dwarka Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopananda, said: “If the High Court order prevents immersion of idols to stop pollution in Ganga, then the Supreme Court has ordered protecting the ponds and ‘kunds’. Also, there are so many other pollutants being released in Ganga. Why is that not being stopped? Why only we are being asked to change our rituals? According to our beliefs, a worshiped idol is akin to a live individual”.
Efforts to get in touch with the organisers could not yield result amid chaos and sloganeering at the spot.

Varanasi district magistrate (DM) Raj Mani Yadav said: “We have told the organisers that they have to respect the Allahabad High Court order. Otherwise, we will have to take legal action. They seem adamant, but we are constantly in touch with them. We are hopeful.”

“We have provided alternative arrangements for the immersion. Apart from Lakshmi Kund, pits have been dug up near Vishwa Sundari Bridge (near Rajghat) along the Ganga and filled with river water,” he added.

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The DM said forces have been deployed to keep an eye on the build-up of around 1,000 people. On Mayor’s remarks, he said the issue of whether the administration informed the organisers in advance could be looked into at an appropriate stage.

Officials privy to the negotiations maintained that it was the joining of the pro-Hindu outfits and some Hindu seers, which has extended the stalemate.

In the past three years, the High Court several times ordered a ban on immersion of idols in Ganga. However, it had relaxed the norms on the insistence of district authorities that changes in immersion routes could lead to law and order situation.

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First published on: 23-09-2015 at 02:25:47 am

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