‘Let Them Live In Harmony, Do Not Create A Line’: HC

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Priyanka Dutta, Kolkata: The Durga Puja-Muharram controversy took another serious turn on Thursday. Two days after Mamata Banerjee’s reaction to the Calcutta High Court’s observation on handling of religious festivals, the high court blasted the West Bengal government over its latest notification on Durga idol immersion.

“You are exercising extreme power without any basis…Just because you are the state, can you pass arbitrary order?” the Calcutta High Court questioned on a recent order banning idol immersions after 10 pm on September 30 – when Durga Puja ends – and on October 1, when Muslims will mark Muharram.

The court had said: “Let them (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them.”

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The Mamata Banerjee-led government had issued a notification prohibiting Durga idol immersion between September 30 and October 1 on account of Muharram, observed by Muslims as a day of mourning. The immersion could continue on October 2.

During arguments over the past two days, the court said a state “cannot hinder a citizen’s right to practice religion assuming that there will be law and order problems”. Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary today said the Mamata Banerjee government must provide “concrete grounds” for its decision. “If you dream that something will go wrong, you cannot impose restrictions,” said the judges.

Three petitions have challenged the restrictions on the traditional immersion of idols at the end of the five-day Durga Puja. “You cannot interfere with the faith of the people, treat them with equality,” Justice Tiwary said.

While speaking with the Kolkata24x7.com, BJP spokesperson Ritesh Tiwary said,” Big Set Back for Mamta Banerjee Govt as Calcutta High Court has revoked the restrictions imposed on idol immersion. Its victory of law. Pujo Politics flop again.Court slaps again. I think govt should learn a new lesson.”

The court said while it didn’t dispute the state’s right to regulate, the administration cannot restrict one’s religious rights.

Rahul Sinha, BJP’s national secretary and the state’s former party president, had said that Banerjee’s logic was “baseless”. He said that people should first make immersion of such a party before the immersion of Durga idol which is trying to do communal politics.