In Bengal, we’re living like in Bangladesh: Hanuman Jayanti organisers

The Calcutta High Court has issued several restrictions on the Hanuman Jayanti procession in Bengal, following the Ram Navami violence.

Howrah | Updated: 06 April, 2023 6:32 pm IST

Unperturbed by the restrictions imposed by the Calcutta High Court on the Hanuman Jayanti procession in Bengal, to stop a repetition of the Ram Navami violence, the residents of Howrah, one of the worst-affected districts, remain determined to take out shobhayatras with pomp and show.

“As per the court order, we cannot play DJ, and no carriage with Lord Hanuman murti is allowed. Only 100 people can participate in the yatra. Sometimes, I wonder if we are living in Bangladesh, where you can regularly hear of the vandalization of Hindu temples and Durga Puja murtis. This is now being replicated in West Bengal. If we take out Ram Navami processions and petrol bombs are thrown at us,” said Umesh Rai of Howrah Kamal Sangh, which takes out one of the biggest Hanuman Jayanti Shobhayatras in Howrah every year speaking to The New Indian. 

The Calcutta High Court has issued several restrictions on the Hanuman Jayanti procession in Bengal, following the Ram Navami violence.

“We will not defy the court order. However, in a country that has a vibrant culture and tradition and is a land of festivals, if we are constantly pushed to a corner, where will Hindus celebrate their festivals? One lakh people might have turned out to participate in the procession here. Who am I going to stop and whom am I going to choose to honour the court’s order?” added Rai.

The clashes that erupted on Ram Navami on March 30 have continued to cause unrest. Shibpur in Howrah and Rishra in Hooghly have been at the center of communal violence. To prevent violence during Hanuman Jayanti, the administration has deployed heavy security. On Wednesday, the Calcutta High Court directed the West Bengal government to request the deployment of paramilitary forces ahead of Thursday’s Hanuman Jayanti celebrations.

The unrest triggered by clashes on Ram Navami on March 30 has refused to die down. Howrah’s Shibpur and Hooghly’s Rishra have been at the centre of Ram Navami communal violence. Anticipating violence on Hanuman Jayanti, the administration had deployed heavy security.

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the West Bengal government to make a request for deployment of paramilitary forces ahead of Hanuman Jayanti celebrations on Thursday.

The Shobhayatra will commence its journey from Gulmohar Colony in Howrah and culminate at Ram Sita Mandir, Salkia, covering a distance of 4 km. The procession organizers have been instructed to avoid any areas dominated by Muslims. Umesh Rai commented, “The administration believes that these clashes occur because Muslims have their iftar in the evening. Hence, we have to alter our route.”

“I have lived here and grown old listening to the sounds of Muharram processions. We have never complained. The truth is that this government is responsible for instigating these clashes to stop the BJP. The administration is accountable for the unrest,” he said.

“Mamata Banerjee’s extreme Muslim appeasement has led her to the extent of stating that no Muslim in the month of Ramzan will engage in violence. So, who are the Muslims that we see in viral videos hurling stones and throwing petrol bombs in Rishra and Shibpur?”

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an advisory to all states and Union territories, urging them to ensure law and order during Hanuman Jayanti on Thursday and to monitor any potential threats to communal harmony.

Following the communal violence that erupted in six states, including West Bengal, Bihar, and Maharashtra, on and after Ram Navami on March 30, in which two people died and several were injured, the ministry’s advisory to all states and Union territories to maintain law and order during Hanuman Jayanti on Thursday was issued.

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