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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Durga Puja row: Bengal cops receive no requests for idol immersion on Muharram

Chastised by the Calcutta high court ruling, the state government had asked puja organisers to apply to the police for permission to immerse idols on Muharram day.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2017 15:22 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Priests perform rituals to worship the goddess Durga at a pandal for the celebrations during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata on September 28, 2017.
Priests perform rituals to worship the goddess Durga at a pandal for the celebrations during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata on September 28, 2017. (AFP)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee could emerge victor in a bitter battle with Hindu right-wing organisations over immersion of idols during the state’s biggest festival, Durga Puja.

Till Friday morning, the police had not received any application from community puja organisers anywhere in the state seeking permission to take out Durga immersion procession on October 1, the day when a section of Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet. The ritual is part of the holy month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Banerjee’s government and BJP and its allied organisations are locked in a bitter war of words after the chief minister banned immersion on the day. The BJP accused her of trying to appease the minority community.

A division bench of the Calcutta high court, however, stayed the blanket ban and ruled that immersions should be allowed if the police found that the processions would not jeopardise the law and order situation. The court also ordered the police to identify separate routes for Muharram and Durga puja processions.

Chastised by the court ruling, the state government asked puja organisers to apply to the police sufficiently in advance for obtaining permission for immersions.

Additional director general (law & order), Anuj Sharma, told HT that not a single application for immersion on October 1 has been received till date

“There are about 25,000 community pujas in all the districts combined. So far we have not received a single application,” Sharma said.

Another senior officer of Kolkata police ruled out the possibility of “any last-minute” application.

“Even if there are any, the police administration will act on it depending on the circumstances and according to the high court order,” the officer added.

State home secretary, Atri Bhattacharya, said the administration will permit immersions “based on the situation on the ground.”

He also pointed out that none of the three almanacs followed in Bengal had any provision for immersion on October 1, also known as ‘Ekadashi’.

Leaders of the Banerjee’s ruling Trinamool Congress have also been persuading puja organisers to refrain from immersing the idols on October 1.

“Our leaders and elected representatives have influence over almost 95% of the community pujas. Some of the remaining ones are under the control of Congress leaders. But I am sure that they will not act in a way that communal harmony is disturbed,” said a member of the state cabinet.

Chief minister Banerjee had criticised the saffron camp for its plans to organise ‘shastra puja’ (weapons worship) on Dashami on the ground that it was not the culture of Bengal.