Kolkata: The Calcutta high court has denied permission for the chariot marches or rathayatras proposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scheduled to be flagged off by the party’s national president Amit Shah from Coochbehar on December 7. The party has been disallowed to hold any rally till January 9 when the court will hear the matter next.

The court on Thursday observed that there isn’t enough time for the state to ensure security during the rallies. The rathyatras might cause communal tension along its way, the state submitted to Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty’s bench.

The party claimed to have sent repeated letters to the state administration since October 29 intimidating them about the rallies. However, the letters remain unanswered. The high court was, however, moved only a month later on November 30 seeking its intervention by directing the administration to ensure smooth passage of the rallies.

Justice Chakraborty also asked the police superintendents of every district to evaluate the situation after speaking to the BJP presidents of the respective districts and submit reports to the administration. Following this the state has been directed to submit a composite report to the court by the next hearing.

Arko Nag, one of the counsels for the state, said the decision might have come in respect of an intelligence report which suspected disruption of law and order if the rallies are allowed. “The court must have feared possible communal disharmony and hence stayed the rallies," Nath said.

Joyprakash Majumder, one of the vice presidents of the state unit of the BJP confirmed that Shah will still be present at Coochbehar as scheduled. The party has already moved the division bench opposing the single bench’s order.

Majumder added that the party had urged chief justice Debasish Kar Gupta to hold a special hearing of the division bench on Thursday itself. However, the chief justice advised the BJP leaders to appeal on Friday in the first hour, Majumder added.

“We will hold a public meeting tomorrow in Coochbehar as scheduled," said Dilip Ghosh the president of the state unit. He also added that the rally will commence if the division bench grants permission.

Mohammad Salim, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) lawmaker, welcomed the high court’s decision. “The state should have denied permission for the rally upfront before the matter was dragged to court," Salim added.

Rabindranath Ghosh, a minister in the state government and Trinamool Congress lawmaker from Coochbehar, also welcomed the court’s order. “The court has given an order keeping the concerns of the general public in mind," he said.

Shah is scheduled to flag off three chariot marches on December 7, 9, 14 from Coochbehar, Gangasagar and Birbhum. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address four rallies during the marches. He is also supposed to address a final event in January at Kolkata where all the rallies will merge after covering all 42 constituencies.

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