Calcutta HC Asks BJP To Provide Tentative ‘Rath Yatra’ Dates


Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party to provide three tentative dates for its proposed Rath Yatra in Bengal and submit a list of self-restrictions to be followed during the rally.

The BJP had moved court with a fresh plea on Monday after the Bengal government denied permission for the statewide rally, also known as ‘Ganatantra Bachao Yatra’ (save democracy rally), earlier this week, stating there was “grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath” of the programme.

The single judge bench further instructed the Advocate-General of the state to submit video recordings of the meeting held between the state government officials and a BJP delegation on December 13 to find a solution to the impasse.

Hearing in the matter is slated to continue on Wednesday.

The saffron outfit was originally scheduled to hold three ‘rath yatras’ from north Bengal’s Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas district’s Gangasagar and Birbhum district’s temple town of Tarapith on December 6, 9 and 14 respectively but was denied permission by a single judge bench of the Calcutta High Court.

The party then moved a division bench of the High Court which directed the West Bengal chief secretary, the home secretary and the director general of police to hold a meeting with a three-member BJP delegation to take a decision on the matter.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, the Bengal BJP leadership said they are hopeful to get a positive verdict from the court.

“The Trinamool Congress government is hellbent on stopping our programmes. But we are hopeful that we will be able to get a positive verdict from the court to hold the save democracy rally,” said state BJP leader Jay Prakash Majumdar.

The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, ridiculed the BJP, claiming the party does not have enough supporters to hold rallies of such magnitude.

“The BJP would have taken out the Rath Yatra if they had the manpower. But do they have the support base to hold such programmes? They themselves are scared,” said Panchayat Minister Subrata Chatterjee.

“It is up to the government to give permission for political programmes. Aren’t the other opposition parties holding their programmes in the state? But if there is a possibility of communal tension and violence due to a particular programme, the government cannot permit that,” he said.