The Calcutta high court on Thursday struck down restrictions imposed by the West Bengal state administration on immersion of Durga idols on 1 October—the day Muslims are to observe Muharram.

The court ruled that the state administration will have to take steps to make sure that immersion processions with Durga idols were not disrupted in any manner, and that separate routes are determined for Muharram and immersion processions.

The state cannot stall immersion of Durga idols after 10pm on 30 September, the Calcutta high court ruled on Thursday, a day after acting chief justice Rakesh Tiwari suggested the state government was trying to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims.

Lawyers for the state government asked for an interim injunction on Thursday’s verdict so that they had time to challenge it in an appeals court. But the court declined to put its verdict on hold.

This is the second time in two years that the state has faced flak over the same issue. Last year, too, the end of Durga puja had coincided with Muharram and restrictions imposed on timings for the immersion of Durga idols had to be relaxed following intervention by the high court.

This year, as many as three public interest litigations were filed challenging the state’s restriction on immersion.

State government officials in Kolkata said the aim was to eliminate all possibilities of clashes between the two communities. Under the changed circumstances now, an alternative has to be found and key officials have already started to work on it, they said, asking not to be identified.

Without referring to the verdict, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said while inaugurating a puja pandal that West Bengal was being targeted by her political opponents in Delhi who are trying to divide the two communities and stir unrest. She was being portrayed as pro-Muslim, but she had been raised to equally respect all religions, she said.

Dilip Ghosh, the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the BJP didn’t ask for any procession to be disrupted or restricted. It’s only the chief minister who imposed restrictions on Hindu processions, thus creating a divide between the two communities, Ghosh said.

The chief minister appears to be contradicting herself for political benefits, said Biswanath Chakraborty, professor of political science at Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati University. She has herself claimed that Hindus and Muslims live in complete harmony, and that there are no issues with law and order in West Bengal. But by imposing restrictions on immersion processions of Durga idols, she has only contradicted herself, he added.

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