KOLKATA:In a more charged re-run of last year, the immersion of Goddess Durga idols and Muharram – the Muslim day of mourning – are set for a head-on collision.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed a large meeting of Durga Puja organisers, leaders of the Muslim community and other religions. She told them that Durga idol immersions, set for September 30 after the four-day Puja festival ends, would be allowed only till 6 pm on that day and would resume on October 2, after Muharram.
This, because processions or tazias to mark Muharram on October 1 would begin the previous evening, said the Chief Minister.
“Some people will try to create trouble on Hindu-Muslim grounds. Every religion is ours. But if there is a problem while a procession is passing a puja pandal, we will all be affected,” Ms Banerjee said, urging against politics.
The announcement immediately triggered virulent reaction on social media and accusations of minority appeasement against Ms Banerjee.
The BJP’s Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh said on Facebook, “Is West Bengal gradually heading towards Talibani rule? Saraswati Pujas being stopped at schools, Durga puja immersion being repeatedly barred, the attempt to introduce Urdu-Arabic words in Bengali language (abba, amma, aasmani) …all this is proof of that. After this we will have to start calling ‘didimoni’ (Mamata Banerjee) by the (Urdu) term (for sister), ‘apa’. How long will the people of Bengal tolerate all this?”
Last year, when there was a similar overlap, the BJP went to the Calcutta High Court, which said the time limits set by the state government for Durga idol immersion on account of Moharram were “arbitrary” and a “clear endeavour” by the state to “appease the minority section of the public”.
It would be “dangerous to mix politics with religion”, the order of October 6 by Justice Dipankar Dutta said. No decision should be taken that could pit “one community against another”, and that “intolerance would rise in the event of such arbitrary decision” of the government.