'Will do what I can to keep peace,' Mamata Banerjee said this evening, reacting to court's reprimand
Kolkata: "Slit my throat but no one tells me what to do," a defiant Mamata Banerjee declared today after a court said her government in Bengal cannot ban the immersion of Durga idols on Muharram and cancelled the unusual restrictions that she had ordered on grounds that there could be trouble. "You are exercising extreme power without any basis," the Calcutta High Court said in sharp comments on the order banning immersions after 10 pm on September 30 - when Durga Puja ends - and on Muharram a day later.
Here are the top 10 updates in this story:
- The court has asked the state government to make designated routes and security arrangements to avoid the overlap of Durga idol immersion processions and Tazia processions on Muharram.
- "I will do what I can to keep the peace," the Chief Minister said this evening, reacting to the court's reprimand.
- Three petitions have challenged the restrictions on the immersion of idols at the end of the five-day Durga Puja, which coincides with Muharram this year.
- During arguments over the past two days, the court had said a state "cannot hinder a citizen's right to practice religion assuming that there will be law and order problems".
- "Let them (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them," said the judges.
- Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary today said the government must provide "concrete grounds" for its decision, which interferes with people's faith. "If you dream that something will go wrong, you cannot impose restrictions."
- Last month, the Chief Minister, while announcing the restrictions, said: "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."
- But the court said while it didn't dispute the state's right to regulate, it couldn't be at the cost of religious rights. "If you say there is complete harmony, are you (the state administration) not creating a line of division between the two communities by your action?" the court questioned.
- Last year, when there was a similar overlap, the BJP went to the High Court, which said the time limits set by the state government for Durga idol immersion on account of Muharram 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", last year's order said, and "intolerance would rise in the event of such an arbitrary decision" of the government.
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