The elephant in the room was addressed recently in West Bengal when the ‘Didi’ led government decided to ban the idol immersion on October 1, in lieu of Muharram. This is not the first time that both Vijaya Dashami and Muharram were falling on the same day. The major reason Mamta Banerjee defended the ban with, was the risk of communal riots in West Bengal.
In a Hindus majority state, Mamata said the decision of placing a ban on one of the most celebrated festivals of the Hindu community was for the better, however, she faced a lot of flak from various religious groups and political parties. Leading the wave of resistance was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which claimed openly to go against the ban and hold the processions irrespective of the ‘danga’ (riot) threats by Didi following the honorable court’s decision.
Both Muharram and VijayaDashmi are festivals which require the people to assemble on the streets and take out processions. The decision made by the Chief Minister was tagged as an attempt to gain the affection of the Muslims and to create a vote bank for the elections. The ban was considered to be a one-sided decision as it was unfair to the Hindus and was tagged a clear case of Muslim appeasement politics.
The simple fact that two communities have their festivals clashing does not mean that one of them should be asked to refrain from participating in the festivities. As a result the Hindu communities and thus the people with political agendas announced to hold the procession as a probable threat created for political reasons and shoved down the throats of the people is never a reason to ban any community from celebrating their festivals, specially when it is not hurting any other faith or life in the least. In fact, it’s the responsibility of the government in power to maintain a secular stand and not hurt people of only one community. The court ordered the Didi government to arrange for special security forces and deploy them to prevent any unwanted event from taking place.
This ban is a great example of how the differences between the Hindus and Muslims have been used as a way to politically sabotage the religious sentiments of the people belonging to the respective communities. If anything else, this would simply have broadened the pre-existing divide between the two. If not a clear case of ‘divide and rule’ what is it? Maybe West Bengal has forgotten the role played by the freedom fighters from Bengal in maintaining the unity between the two communities and not follow in the footsteps of the very people who drained India of resources and wealth in the name of ruling it. Is Didi government becoming the new British-India government? Forget education! Forget development! Forget growth! Focus on just remaining in power, if that means a few thousand people dying, oh well! So be it!
As the Hindus felt cheated and played on, in the name of the majority, the advocates of the Muslim community refrained from openly taking a stand. The Calcutta High Court, however, normalized the situation by not permitting the arbitrary use of power by the government and giving both the festivals equal priority. At least some sigh of relief finally after a few years of the ban for the majority community in a state. Believe it or not, the majority population is the one being harassed under a purely leftist cover.