Amid the ongoing row over the violent clashes in Howrah and Hooghly during Ram Navami, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the West Bengal government to requisition central forces for assisting the state police in maintaining peace during Hanuman Jayanti celebrations.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged people to celebrate the festival peacefully.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has decided to conduct 500 Hanuman Jayanti programmes across the state but no weapons would be carried in the processions.
The state administration decided to deploy three companies of central forces in the police commisionerates of Hooghly, Barrackpore and Kolkata on Thursday when the festival dedicated to Lord Hanuman will be celebrated.
What did the Calcutta HC say?
Observing that prevention is better than cure, a division bench presided by Acting Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam directed the West Bengal government to requisition central forces to avoid any breach of peace when Hanuman Jayanti rallies are taken out on Thursday.
The court also directed the Centre to make swift arrangements for such deployment on receipt of requisition from the state.
The high court said the state police is required to take all steps, with the assistance of the central forces, to prevent any untoward incident so that people are not put in jeopardy.
It also asked the state to file an action taken report on the next date of hearing.
The order came on a PIL filed by Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.
What did CM Mamata Banerjee say?
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the court order.
"Tomorrow is Hanuman Jayanti. I will urge everybody to celebrate it peacefully. There will be no problem if peace is observed. Bengal is the land of peace,” she said earlier in the day.
“I say religion is a personal choice, while festivities are for everyone. We must see that we celebrate festivals together peacefully. We all must pray for peace irrespective of our religious identity," Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said.
Security beefed up in Kolkata
There will be an ample number of state police forces deployed at sensitive areas in the state and also at those places where violence was witnessed recently,” a senior government official said.
“Apart from that, we have decided to deploy three companies of paramilitary forces in Kolkata, Hooghly and Barrackpore commissionerates," the official told PTI after a high-level meeting.
It was decided at the meeting that a list of volunteers participating in processions scheduled for the Hanuman Jayanti festival will have to be submitted to the local police station.
"Everyone will be given an identity card by the police. No one will be allowed to participate in the procession without this card," he said.
The TMC-BJP feud over law and order
BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh alleged that the state government failed to control the situation when violence erupted during Ram Navami celebrations because of its “appeasement politics”.
Suvendu Adhikari also accused the state government of failing to maintain the law and order in the state.
TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "We have seen that central forces were deployed when assembly elections were held in eight phases in 2021. The BJP and the saffron camp are trying to foment trouble in the state. The central forces will now have to deal with the goons of the BJP."
Banerjee has been alleging that the opposition BJP is behind the recent incidents of clashes in Howrah and Hooghly districts during Ram Navami celebrations.
The TMC accused the BJP of conspiring to polarise the society for political gain, the saffron camp claimed it was “appeasement politics” of the ruling party behind the incident.
On Tuesday, West Bengal Governor Dr CV Ananda Bose rushed from Darjeeling to visit violence-hit Rishra in Hooghly district and take stock of the situation there.
(With PTI Inputs)