File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( AFP )
Mamata Banerjee directed last week that there will be no immersions of the Durga idols on Muharram which falls on October 1 ||The court said that if the government in Bengal was convinced that there was communal harmony in the state, then it should not try and create a communal divide
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday reprimanded the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government for banning immersions of Durga idols on the Muslim festival of Muharram, and accused it of making "communal distinction" between the Hindus and the Muslims.
Mamata Banerjee directed last week that there will be no immersions of the Durga idols on Muharram which falls on October 1, a day after the Durga Puja festival will conclude. She had said the move was aimed at averting communal tensions that could be possibly instigated by right-wing extremist groups including the RSS, Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The court said that if the government in Bengal was convinced that there was communal harmony in the state, then it should not try and create a communal divide.
"When you (state government) are firm there is communal harmony in the state, why are you creating communal distinction between the two?," the Calcutta High Court observed.
"Let them live in harmony. Do not create a line between them. Let them live together", the court said.
In August, the West Bengal chief minister had said that Durga idol immersion would be allowed only till 6 pm on September 30 and would resume on October 2 after Muharram. She was accused of minority appeasement by political parties and on social media.
On September 15, the West Bengal government told the Calcutta High Court that immersion will be allowed till 10 pm on Vijaya Dashami on September 30. The state's Advocate General Kishore Dutta said a notification has been issued which allowed the immersion of idols till 10 pm on September 30. He said immersion would again be allowed on October 2.
The court was hearing a plea which wanted that the immersion be allowed till 1.36 am on October 1 in accordance with the Hindu calendar.
Mamata Banerjee's directive on Muharram had come a day after the VHP said they intend to carry out shastra puja (worship of weapons) in at least 300 places across West Bengal on Vijaya Dashami (Dussehra), which falls on September 30.
"No violence will be tolerated during Durga Puja. No idol immersion on Muharram. Politics shouldn't be done in name of festivals," Mamata Banerjee said.
"No immersion on Muharram. We will not let anyone do any rally with arms," the West Bengal chief minister said.
"If RSS, VHP, Hindu Samhati are trying to create communal tension. We will combat any attempt to give rise to riots. We are not scared of the Enforcement Directorate or the CBI who try to summon us," at a press conference.
The Trinamool Congress chief's directive on immersions came before the Calcutta High Court judgement on her immersion order.