The Calcutta High Court on Thursday lifted all the restrictions on Durga Puja immersion imposed by the Bengal government, allowing it till 12 am on all days including on ‘Ashura’, the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram.
Terming the government’s directive as “arbitrary”, the court asked police to designate separate routes for Durga Puja immersions, and Tazia processions on the occasion of Muharram, in the city and ensure adequate security for both.
The bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary gave the orders while hearing three PILs challenging the restrictions on immersion of idols at the end of the five-day Durga Puja festival.
“The court said the state cannot hinder a citizen’s right to practice religion assuming that there will be law and order problems and asked the government to provide ‘concrete grounds’ for its decision to restrict the immersion,” a counsel associated with the case said after the High Court’s order.
“The court has asked the state government to diversify the routes of processions on the occasion of Durga Puja immersion and Tazia and ensure that the routes do not overlap in any way. The state is also advised to widely publicise the allotted routes for respective processions among people so that there is no confusion,” he added.
The government banned idol immersion after 10 pm on September 30 – Dashami – when the Durga Puja ends. The Muslim community will mark Ashura on October 1.
The decision started a controversy as BJP and RSS termed the state’s order as unconstitutional. BJP President Amit Shah questioned the order and accused the West Bengal government of resorting to appeasement politics, looking at the vote bank of a certain community.