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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 15 September: CHIEF Minister Mamata Banerjee today went on the defensive on the issue of restrictions on Durga idol immersion and accused BJP of creating a controversy so to foment communal riot.

Addressing the Press at state secretariat Nabanna today, Banerjee said that her government has all along been saying that the immersion will remain suspended only for a day on 1 October, when Muharram is observed. There was no decision on barring immersion on Dashami, which is the day before.

“We said that on Dashami, immersion will be allowed until 6 pm. We kept six hours in hand so that after immersion management can be done in a better way. The bar on immersion is only for a day on 1 October; immersion will resume again on 2 October,” the Chief Minister said, pointing out that going by the almanac, immersion is to be done on Dashami and nor on Ekadashi.

Responding to petitions, a division bench of Calcutta High Court on Friday extended the immersion hours on Dashami from 6 pm to 10 pm and has asked the state government to tell whether it can be further extended until 1.36 am of 2 October, which is the deadline set by the almanac.

In passing the order acting Chief Justice Nishita Nirmal Mhatre had praised Mumbai Police saying that they perform superbly on religious occasions. Without directly referring to this, the Chief Minister today asked whether Mumbai Police will be able to handle if Durga Puja of Bengal’s scale and Muharram are held on the same day.

Banerjee directly blamed BJP and its allied organisations for a deliberate misinformation campaign on the issue so to trigger a riot.

“BJP is spreading misinformation because this is what they are good at. They are trying to foment trouble so that people cannot live in peace during the festival days. Don’t try to harm the cultural harmony of Bengal, don’t play with fire,” she said.

High Court will take a final call on 18 September on whether to extend the immersion until 1.36 am of 2 October after hearing the views of the state government and Muharram organisers.