Maa In Town: Immersion Controversy Vapourized

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Priyanka Dutta, Kolkata: For most Indians in general and Bengalis in particular, it is that special time of the year again – Maa Durga is back in town. The 10 handed goddess, the epitome of women empowerment and devi shakti is celebrated with much fanfare. Her welcome and subsequent stay is the one thing that gets the city of joy, Kolkata, on its feet.

Before the alarming hour of this festive mood, the City was running through by political statements by all political party, courts order and all. Finally, all the controversy ended from now. As West Bengal government has decided not to move the Supreme Court to challenge the interim verdict of Calcutta High Court on Durga immersion controversy.

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Durga puja is the most popular festival in West Bengal. Politicians of all hues usually suspend their mutual bickering and agitations mid-autumn and focus on public relations in and around puja pandals. Thus The CM has directed all, including senior ministers and Durga Puja organisers, to attend a meeting in Nabanna on Friday to chalk out a roadmap.

Police are now poring over several lakh odd applications about immersions and proposed routes from September 30 to October 4, barring October 1, they have received statewide. Depending on the information they collate from this, they will decide deployment and security measures they need to take on October 1, when immersion coincides with Muharram, in light of the HC order on Thursday.

Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar had issued a notification on September 16 on traffic restrictions for the Muharram processions for the 10-day period starting September 22 and ending on October 1. The original plan details 12 major processions and multiple other smaller ones across 27 police stations in Kolkata.

The HC in its order said: “It is within the competence of the State to designate a separate route both for the procession (taziya) by the Muslim community and the procession for immersion of the Durga idol on September 30, 2017 or even on October 1, 2017 if the immersion is found permissible, shall ensure that adequate protections are provided to maintain the public order or the peace and harmony.”

The state police, and their city counterparts, are worried in pockets of mixed population for intelligence reports forewarn trouble in some of these zones, particularly in South and North 24 Parnagas, East Midnapore, Birbhum and Malda. The state has not yet indicated whether or not it will mount a challenge on the HC’s immersion order.

The Bengal government believes that with Muharram (October 1) falling a day after Dusshera, processions from both the communities, can lead to a potentially volatile situation. Mamata Banerjee in her speech on Wednesday, expressed concerns about the fragile peace currently ensued in Bengal. She said it is duty of all to ensure that harmony is maintained and advised all not to fall to any rumour-mongering on social media.

Didi’s word of caution comes barely a month after Bengal hit the national headlines for a communal riot which broke out at Basirhat over a Facebook post about Prophet Mohammed. It took army deployment and strong administrative measures to bring the situation under control. Basirhat has followed the pattern of similar communal flare-ups in Kalichak in Malda, Dhulagarh and Chandannagar among others in the last couple of years.

Controversy between Maa and Mamata vapourized as the city decked to the nines, like a newly married bride, Kolkata appears resplendent as fairy lights and egg roll and mutton chop shops dot the streets overnight. The autos and cabs are plying at all hours of the night, ferrying families, friends and lovers from one pandal to the next. Let’s enjoy this festive season.