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Mamata sidesteps HC order decides no idol immersion on Muharram without police permit

Undeterred by the Calcutta High Court’s landmark order the Mamata Banerjee government on Friday decided that no idol immersion would take place without the permission from the police on October 1, which coincides Ekadoshi with Muharram.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday had allowed immersion of Durga idols in West Bengal on all days including Muharram.

The state government’s decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the chief minister after her government chose to not challenge the high court’s landmark ruling at the apex court to avoid further controversy.

The development came on a day West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi called for peace and communal harmony in the state.

He observed, “The high court’s order on the Durga Puja idol immersion is neither victory nor defeat for anyone. The administration must ensure that both the communities can organise their religious occasions peacefully.”

On Friday afternoon, Banerjee convened a high-level meeting with Trinamool Congress ministers, MLAs and MPs from Kolkata and its neighbouring districts at Nabanna, the state secretariat, for a way-out.

Top officials of the administration and police were also present.

It has been made mandatory that the puja committee organisers would have to take permission from the police for idol immersions on October 1, according to sources.

The organisers will be allowed to do so only once they get clearance from the police.

The decision to not move the apex court was taken following the state government’s consultation with veteran Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal.

Trinamool Lok Sabha MP and lawyer Kalyan Banerjee informed about the government’s move before the BJP could jump to encash the political mileage over the ruling ahead of the festive season.

Turning the table he argued that the high court’s ruling did not go against the state government.

According to him, the high court in its ruling rather empowered the state government and its police, administration to decide the immersion modalities.

“The move to approach the Supreme Court was cancelled after the high court’s ruling was discussed with Sibal. The high court stated that the other directions would not come into effect if the immersion is not found permissible. Now it is up to the state government to assess whether the immersion is permissible or not permissible. So the order has been in our favour,” Kalyan Banerjee said.

He also pointed out that the order was misinterpreted as a setback to the state government on Thursday by those who wanted to reap political benefits out of it.

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