Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Wednesday that no Durga idols will be immersed on October 1 to prevent Puja festivities from clashing with Muharram processions. Hours later, the state BJP said it will move court against her decision. Speaking to puja organisers in Kolkata, Mamata said, “There will be no immersions on October 1 due to Muharram. However, immersions will resume on October 2 and continue till October 4 — the day before Lakshmi Puja.”
“This year Durga Puja and Muharram have fallen at the same time. We have to maintain peace during the festivals. I will ask the police to talk to puja and Muharram committees. Barricades will be set up at places where Muharram processions will be taken out so that processions of both communities do not mix up. The puja committees will have to play a vital role in this regard. You have to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. We will not allow anyone to incite riots,” she added.
Lashing out at Mamata, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha told The Indian Express, “Last year, she had given similar orders which were challenged in the high court, which had pulled up the state government for giving such arbitrary orders aimed at appeasing the minorities. However, the high court order had come after the festival. We will challenge her decision in the court of law.”
“The Mamata Banerjee government is appeasing the minorities by putting restrictions on Hindu celebrations. Hindus here cannot take out Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions. Now she has put a restriction on idol immersion. We oppose such a decision,” he said.
Last year, Mamata had angered many by imposing similar restrictions, despite which incidents of communal violence had been reported from the state. In North 24 Parganas, clashes between Hindus and Muslims left several injured, and homes and shops gutted. The trigger for the violence was a low-intensity bomb attack on a Muharram procession. Muslims alleged the bomb was thrown by Hindu groups. Hindus alleged the bomb was a ruse to allow a prepared Muslim mob to attack Hindus.