Kolkata auditorium cancels booking for Mohan Bhagwat’s event

Though the topic of discussion is not communally sensitive, sources say the government questions the timing of the visit. Bijoya Dashami (the last day of Durga Puja) and Muharram are on subsequent days on September 30 and October 1.

kolkata Updated: Sep 04, 2017 20:54 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Kolkata auditorium,Mohan Bhagwat,RSS chief
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

The authorities of Mahajati Sadan, a prominent government-owned auditorium in Kolkata, have cancelled the booking for an event scheduled for early October where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was supposed to deliver a speech.

Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was also scheduled to attend the programme on October 3. The subject of the speech was Sister Nivedita’s role in India’s nationalist movement.

“By July we completed all formalities and informed the police about the VIP movement. Suddenly, on August 31, the auditorium told us our booking could be cancelled and gave several vague reasons, finally asking us to obtain a no-objection certificate from the police. This NOC was never required before but we approached police anyway. The authorities called us on September 1 and said the booking was cancelled for maintenance,” Rantideb Sengupta, general secretary of Sister Nivedita Mission Trust, told HT on Monday.

The organisation is now looking for another auditorium.

Sources said though the topic of discussion is not communally sensitive, the state government thought the timing of the visit was itself fraught with risk. Bijoya Dashami (the last day of Durga Puja) and Muharram are on subsequent days on September 30 and October 1.

The saffron camps have already planned to hold shastra puja or weapon worship on Bijoya Dashami.

“We’ll go ahead with the event for sure. Once we finalise the new venue,it will be informed to the Governor and Bhagwat,” Sengupta said.

This is not the first time the state government tried to stop Bhagwat from addressing public gatherings. Earlier in January, Kolkata Police denied permission for Bhagwat’s rally in the city but the high court ruled against the decision.

In 2016, too, Muharram fell a day after Bijoya Dashami, and the state witnessed clashes between Hindus and Muslims in several districts that continued for nearly a week.

“In case clashes break out again, Bhagwat’s presence in the state will only worsen the situation,” an administrative officer said.

On Monday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, too, expressed concerns over the planned shastra puja events.

“Weapons are best suited in the hands of Maa Durga. Just be careful so that there is no attempt to create tension on the Bijoya Dashami day in the name of sashtra puja, or procession with arms,” the chief minister said during an administrative meeting with the state’s top policemen.

First Published: Sep 04, 2017 20:54 IST