Rath yatras not allowed as Mamata scared: Amit Shah
TENSION Calcutta high court pulls up the West Bengal government
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday said the reason why West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee did not give the party permission to hold three ‘rath yatras’ (rallies) in the state was because she was “scared” of its expansion even as the Calcutta high court came down heavily on the West Bengal government for not responding to letters of the BJP seeking permission for its rath yatras in the state.
On Thursday, the high court refused to grant permission to a BJP rally, hours after the state government told the one-judge bench that the administration denied approval to the event over apprehensions of law and order problems. The BJP approached the court again on Friday to appeal before a division bench.
A division bench of justices Biswanath Somadder and A Mukherjee said the government’s silence on the permission is “astonishing and astounding”. The court disposed of an appeal by the BJP against a single bench order of Thursday and directed the state to hold the meeting by Wednesday (December 12). The chief secretary and home secretary and the director general of police (DGP) shall hold a meeting with three representatives of the BJP by December 12 and take a decision on the matter by December 14, the court directed.
“The BJP’s rath yatra in Bengal has not been cancelled… we will take out the yatra,” BJP president Amit Shah asserted at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. “These yatras will definitely happen. She [Banerjee] can use whatever force she wants. I will personally go to flag off these yatra. We will not surrender.”
However, Shah had to defer Friday’s rally from Cooch Behar.
If the state government refuses to give in to the BJP’s plan yet again, the matter will return to the courts. The Wednesday deadline set by the court for the parties to meet will come a day after counting for assembly polls in five states —Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Telangana —are completed and results declared.
The BJP had planned three rath yatras, including the one in Cooch Behar which was to be held on Friday, covering most of the parliamentary seats and 294 assembly constituencies over the next one-and-a-half months. The other two marches, which are seen as an effort to expand the party’s footprint in the state for the Lok Sabha elections next year, were to be held in Gangasagar on December 9 and in Tarapith on December 14.
Shah claimed the party wrote to the home secretary and the director general of police on October 29, seeking permission for the rally, but they did not respond. The BJP, he said, sent reminders even on November 5, 12 and 20.
The police and BJP workers fought a pitched battle in a forested area of Jalpaiguri district on Friday, injuring 12 policemen, including an additional SP.
The additional SP was seriously injured after a stone hit him in the eye, Jalpaiguri SP Amitabha Maiti said.
The incident took place near Dhupjhora when the BJP activists were going to a public meeting of senior party leaders in neighbouring Cooch Behar district.
The bus carrying BJP workers was stopped by the police and the activists got down from the bus and started hurling stones towards the policemen, Maiti said.
The policemen were outnumbered by the BJP workers and 12 police personnel, including additional SP Thendup Sherpa, were injured.
BJP chief Amit Shah deferred rally from Cooch Behar.