Didi may win immersion battle
State police have not received a single application for Durga idol immersion on Muharram day
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee could emerge victorious in a bitter battle with Hindu right-wing organisations over immersion of idols during the state’s biggest festival, Durga Puja.
Until Friday morning, the police had not received any application from 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 submit applications to the police sufficiently in advance for obtaining permission for idol 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. 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.
Banerjee had criticised the saffron camp for its plans to organise ‘shastra puja’ (weapons worship) on Dashami, saying that it was not the culture of Bengal.
The government asked puja organisers to submit applications in advance for permission to immerse Durga idols on October 1.