KOLKATA: On the one hand governments talk of secularism, while on the other hand they are the ones dividing the country on religious grounds. It is indeed difficult or rather sad to see that a village in West Bengal is playing communal politics and has barred Hindus from celebrating Durga Puja festivities.

In an exclusive report, NewsX has exposed the ruthlessness with which the Hindu residents of Nalhati village of Birbhum district, West Bengal, have not been allowed to organize Durga Puja festivities since 2012.

It is not by choice that the Hindus do not celebrate one of the most auspicious festivals of India in their village, but it is because the administration has denied them permission to hold the festivities.

Documents accessed exclusively by NewsX reveal that the administration was approached several times by members of the Muslim community who forced them to stop Hindus from celebrating Durga Puja in Nalhati.

One of the villagers speaking to NewsX revealed, “We built an idol and sought permission but the Muslim community opposed it,” villager Paresh Pandey said.

Another villager, Chandan Sahu spoke with NewsX and disclosed the Hindu-Muslim angle to the ban story: “We sought permission for Puja in 2012 but then Muslims demanded permission for killing cows. So we are barred from performing Puja. Our women have to travel 4-5 km every year. The police also threaten to detain us if we don’t comply.”

The administration informally endorses the idea and argues that granting permission to Hindus to celebrate Durga Puja in the village could give rise to communal tensions in the region. The administration had earlier denied permission to Muslims to carry out cow slaughter. Seeking revenge the Muslim community demanded that the administration refrain from granting permission to Hindus to celebrate Durga Puja.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has maintained silence on the matter till now.

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