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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 21 September: SERVING a major blow to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Calcutta High Court has invalidated the notification for bar on immersion of Durga idol on 1 October, the day of Muharram, which the state administration had issued at her direction.

Reacting to the development, the Chief Minister has said that her neck can be chopped off but none can dictate terms to her. “I follow the Constitution. I believe humanity is above all religion and hence, I do not practice the politics of appeasement.”

“Delhi is conspiring against us all the time. Why so much conspiracy against us? If anybody ties to create trouble during the festival I will not spare them. Bu I will not take responsibility if anybody conspires to foment trouble,” she said while speaking at the inauguration of Ekdalia Evergreen Puja pandal at Gariahat later in the afternoon.

The Chief Minister also said that hardly anyone ever immerse Durga idol on Ekadashi, and yet some people went to the High Court just to disturb peace. Earlier, soon after the HC ruling came, she went into a huddle with chief secretary, DGP and other senior officials to formulate a new strategy.

In an interim order, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwari and justice Harish Tandon this afternoon overruled the state’s notification on immersion and ordered that from Dashami (30 September) onward the immersion will take place everyday up to 12 midnight.

The state advocate general Kishore Dutta had prayed for a stay on the order, but the judges rejected the plea and said that the hearing will continue after the Durga Puja as regards the dispute whether state government has a right to impose such bar in the first place.

According to Smarajit Choudhury, advocate of the petitioners who had moved the High Court challenging the bar on immersion on Muharram, the court has also clarified that the immersion can continue well beyond midnight if required. Muharram processions shall be held side by side and police shall have to chart out separate routes for Muharram and immersion.

In passing the order Chief Justice Tiwari observed the state administration had exercised the ultimate authority by imposing the bar on immersion without any solid basis. The government cannot act according to its whims and fancy, he said.

In response to state advocate general’s submission that who will take responsibility in the event of an untoward incident, Chief Justice Tiwari said that if there is such apprehension, the government should take precaution in advance and make use of the apparatus that are there at its disposal.

There is a procedure in everything. In the event of trouble at any gathering, police are supposed to make use of water cannons first and then resort to lathi-charge, if needed. But one cannot open fire at the very first stage. Similarly, a ban cannot be imposed before anything has happened. Merely on the apprehension of trouble, state cannot infringe upon the religious rights of the citizens, the judge said.

Advising the state to treat all communities equally, he further said that nobody should draw a division between Hindus and Muslims and both the communities should be allowed to live in harmony.

During a meeting with organisers of community Durga Puja, Muharram, and police at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that there will be no immersion on 1 October due to Muharram.

The administration subsequently issued an executive order stating that immersion will remain suspended from 6 pm on 30 September (Dashami) and throughout 1 October (Muharram). Subsequently, during the hearing at the High Court, advocate general said that immersion will be allowed until 10 pm on 30 October and remain suspended thereafter and throughout 1 October.