Won’t allow processions with weapons: Mamata throws challenge at RSS, VHP
Raising her pitch against the saffron brigade, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said her government will simply not allow any procession with weapons and police will strictly deal with anyone trying to carry out any such plan.
Enthused by the unprecedented show of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti on April 5 in Bengal this year, the saffron camp has planned ‘shastra puja’ (weapon worship) on Bijoya Dasami on September 30.
In the second week of August, Sachindranath Singha, Vishwa Hindu Parishad organisational secretary for West Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim and Andaman, told HT the organisation will take all legal steps if the Mamata Banerjee administration tries to stop shastra puja.
RSS and VHP usually celebrate the occasion with grandeur in various parts of the country. But shastra puja has never been popular in West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee also had an advice for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: “Don’t abandon your ideology in order to help the BJP. Earlier the mission of the RSS was to serve, now it has turned into a shopping mall culture,” remarked Mamata Banerjee.
The saffron camp retorted immediately. “We never said we would take out processions with weapons. We have planned shastra puja which means worship of weapons. This is an integral part of Durga puja itself, something the chief minister is unaware of,” Jishnu Basu, general secretary of RSS in south Bengal told HT.
“The chief minister seems to have lost confidence in herself,” quipped Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. “The state government has no right to decide the date and time of rituals such as Durga immersion. All it can do is decide the routes for immersion processions. If she feels that her police cannot handle processions she is free to seek help from the Union home minister. After all, she did ask for Central forces to handle the crisis in Darjeeling and the riots at Basirhat,” said Ghosh.
“Durga puja cannot begin unless Durga’s weapons are worshipped. It’s a century-old ritual. Weapons are never carried in immersion processions. The chief minister is trying to mislead the people,” added Jishnu Basu. He also described Mamata Banerjee as “the most communal chief minister of Bengal after Suhrawardy.”
“Police won’t permit anybody to organise processions with weapons. Anybody trying to take out one will be firmly dealt with,” said the chief minister with director general of Bengal police Surajit Kar Purakayastha by her side. “Some people are drawing comparison between Mumbai Police and Bengal Police and spreading wrong messages,” she quipped.
“There have never been any processions with weapons. Each and every procession needs police permission. Permission will not be given to any procession where weapons are displayed. Police will take stern action if anyone attempts any such thing,” said the DGP.
Referring to the controversy surrounding the government’s decision not to allow immersion of Durga idols on October 1 - the day of Muharram - Banerjee said the government’s policy was not a reflection of the alleged appeasement. “The government had to discontinue immersion for a day because of Muharram only to prevent any disruption of communal harmony. Will Mumbai Police be able to handle the situation if Muharram processions and Ganapti immersion processions coincide?” said Banerjee.
She also pointed out that October 1 coincides with ‘Ekadashi’ according to Hindu almanac. It is a day when immersions are not usually held according to tradition, she said.
On Friday the advocate general told Calcutta high court - which is hearing a PIL on the immersion timings - that the state will allow immersion till 10 pm on September 30 (Bijoya Dasami), extending the deadline by four hours.
The DGP said on Saturday that police recently arrested two persons in the north Bengal town of Raiganj for allegedly planning to throw the head of a pig inside a temple. “Both are local BJP supporters. They admitted that they conspired to carry out the plan,” said Kar Purakayastha.
“People trying to disturb communal harmony will be dealt with an iron hand. Their political affiliation will not be taken into consideration. Those who will observe Muharram should do so peacefully,” said the chief minister.