A single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court on Thursday denied permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party for a “rath yatra” in the state, which was scheduled to begin from Coochbehar on Friday, PTI reported.
When the party’s lawyers asked for their appeal to be heard by a division bench instead, Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta asked them to come on Friday morning, the BJP’s lawyer Phiroze Edulji was quoted as saying. The party has now decided to put on hold the rally and the rath yatra, which were to be led by party chief Amit Shah on Friday. Earlier in the day, the single-judge bench had adjourned the matter till January 9.
The BJP had moved the High Court on Wednesday, claiming that the state government and the police had not responded to its applications seeking permission to hold three rallies in the state starting on Friday. The party had asked the court to direct the state to ensure that the “rath yatra” goes off smoothly.
The West Bengal government told the High Court earlier on Thursday that it refused permission for the proposed yatra as it could cause communal tension, PTI reported. Advocate General Kishore Dutta said Coochbehar’s superintendent of police has denied permission for the rally. BJP’s counsel Anindya Mitra submitted that it was the state government’s duty to maintain law and order.
Arkho Kumar Naag, the state’s advocate, told reporters that the court has directed the superintendents of police in the districts concerned to discuss the matter with the BJP’s district presidents by December 21 and submit a report to the court by January 9, ANI reported.
“In a democratic set-up, all political parties are at liberty to pursue their programme,” said BJP state unit chief Dilip Ghosh. “The government has no business stopping it,” the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said that as a “responsible political party” the BJP will obey the court’s order, PTI reported.
BJP leaders had claimed last week that they will hold their yatra or the “Save Democracy” rally even if the administration denies permission.
BJP state chief’s convoy attacked in Coochbehar
Meanwhile, Dilip Ghosh on Thursday alleged that Trinamool Congress workers attacked his convoy in Coochbehar district’s Mathabhanga area on Thursday.
“TMC goons attacked us shamelessly wrecking and breaking our vehicles,” Ghosh tweeted. “Desperation of TMC to stop us [and] yatra by all ruthless means is so evident in their acts of violence.”
Ghosh told The Indian Express that police were present when the attack took place and that BJP workers were injured in the incident.
Trinamool Congress leader Udayan Guha dismissed the allegation. “It was an outcome of a BJP infighting,” Guha added. “They have a grudge against its state leadership.”
The party staged a protest against the alleged attack on Ghosh. “We are on the streets to give notice that if such activities continue, it proves [West] Bengal has no democracy,” BJP leader Mukul Roy told ANI.
Roy told PTI that governor’s rule should be immediately imposed in the state if the government claims it cannot “maintain law and order if we conduct our rath yatra”.