Why is government creating communal distinction, Calcutta HC asks Mamata

Cheryl Sanders
September 21, 2017

The Calcutta High Court knocked the Mamata Banerjee government regarding the Durga idol immersion issue and asked that why she was creating communal distinction between the two communities.

Kolkata, Sep 21 (IndianExpress): The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday told the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government not to create distinction between Hindus and Muslims by disallowing Muharram and Durga Puja processions on the same day.

'You are exercising extreme power without any basis, ' the court said while hearing a PIL filed by lawyers over the government decision to ban idol immersion after 6 pm on Oct 1 due to Muharram procession.

"Just basing on an assumption that law and order situation might be disrupted, the restriction on Durga idol immersion has been imposed by the state government which cannot be sanctioned by the Constitution of India", Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwari said.

On the other hand, the West Bengal government fears that allowing the two processions on the same day would lead to a repeat of communal clashes that the state witnessed in six districts in October past year.

"When Chief Minister of the state is claiming that West Bengal is a pilgrimage of communal harmony, then what is the need of such restriction? Don't create a line between the two", the court observed.

Observing that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had herself told a public meeting that Hindus and Muslims lived together in harmony in the state, the bench said, "Listen to what the head of the state says and not a police officer". Later it said the immersions will be allowed till 10 pm on September 30. Only on October 1, there will be no immersion because of the observation of Muharram.

The state Advocate General (AG), Kishore Dutta, claimed that it was the administration's prerogative to decide on steps to prevent any untoward situation, and claimed that the court's interference would amount to towing into the administration's domain. The HC said that there is a difference between regulation and prohibition. "It is a preventive action to rule out any possibility of a law-and-order situation", he said. The court further said it was advocating peace, harmony and living together. It is expected to give its verdict on the issue on Thursday.

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