KOLKATA: Questioning the West Bengal government’s curbs on Durga idol immersion, the Calcutta High Court today said the state cannot hinder a citizen’s right to practice religion on the basis of a mere assumption of law and order disruption and must provide sound reasons for doing so.
“Let them (Hindus and Muslims) live in harmony, do not create a line between them,” Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwary said, asking the government to provide a “concrete ground” for its decision to stop the immersion of Durga idols after 10 pm on September 30 (Vijaya Dashami day) and on October 1 on account of Muharram.
Hearing three PILs challenging the restrictions on immersion of idols at the end of the five-day Durga Puja, a bench, also comprising Justice Harish Tandon, said a mere assumption that a law-and-order situation might arise, owing to Vijaya Dashami and Muharram falling one after the other, could not be the basis of imposing curbs on immersion timings.
Observing that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had herself told a public meeting that Hindus and Muslims lived together in harmony in the state, the bench said, “Listen to what the head of the state says and not a police officer.”
“People have the right to practice their religious activities, whichever community they may be of, and the state cannot put restrictions, unless it has a concrete ground to believe that two communities cannot live together,” the acting chief justice said.
The West Bengal government has imposed restrictions on Durga idol immersions on September 30, Vijaya Dashami, after 10 PM and no immersion would be allowed on October 1, the day Muharram is scheduled to be observed.