Festival battles

‘Violence will not be tolerated on Durga Puja,’ West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee warns RSS and VHP

The Trinamool Congress chief has banned immersion of Durga idols on Muharram, which is on October 1.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday reiterated that Durga Puja idol immersions on Muharram will be barred, warning that violence will not be tolerated during the festivities.

“Politics should not be done in the name of festivals,” Banerjee said, according to ANI. “Don’t disturb peace during Durga Puja… don’t play with fire,” Banerjee warned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the VHP on Saturday, The Indian Express reported.

On August 24, Banerjee had said idol immersions will not be allowed on October 1 since Durga Puja and Muharram will be on the same day. She said the decision was made to ensure that both communities do not clash and to avoid any violence. On September 4, the Trinamool Congress chief had directed the police to stop any attempt of Shastra Puja (weapon worship) on Vijaya Dashmi.

However, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said the party will get permission from the court to go ahead with celebrations on Vijaya Dashmi, DNA reported. “Shastra Puja is an essential part of Durga Puja,” VHP vice president, south Bengal, Chandranath Das told the English newspaper. “Mamata is the daughter of a Brahmin and she knows the paraphernalia of pujas, but she ignores those to appease Muslims and ensure her vote bank.”

The West Bengal chief minister responded, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party was intentionally spreading misinformation. “This is not appeasement [of minorities]. Bengal has 30% minority population. It is what we have inherited since Independence. It is not our invention,” she said, according to India Today.

Banerjee had earlier said the immersions on September 30 will only be allowed till 6 pm. However, on Friday, the West Bengal government issued a notification stating that the deadline has been extended to 10 pm. Immersion processions can continue from October 2, it said.

The West Bengal chief minister had passed a similar order in 2016, but the Kolkata High Court had stayed the directive.

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