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Separate Route For Idol Immersion, Muharram In Bihar? Sushil Modi Says No

Patna:  The controversy over Durga idol immersion on Vijaya Dashami, a day before Muharram, which tore through Bengal last week, has reached Bihar and is creating ripples within the BJP, which is ruling the state along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United or JDU. Sources said today, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi shot down a proposal to draw up separate routes for Muharram procession and idol immersion from party colleague Giriraj Singh.

Unlike West Bengal – where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s order curtailing immersion time got vetoed by the Calcutta High Court – Bihar government has issued no sweeping strictures on immersion. However, several district magistrates in the state have issued directives to complete the immersion process by early hours of October 1 to avoid any possible clashes between the two communities and minimise pressure on the police.

On Sunday, as top BJP leaders met in Patna, Union Minister Giriraj Singh appealed to the state government to provide different routes for Muharram processions and Durga idol immersion. While maintaining that pressure should not be exerted on anyone on the pretext of maintaining law and order, the lawmaker said both communities should be allowed to observe their festivals freely.

But the idea was promptly opposed by Sushil Modi. According to sources, Mr Modi said he been a part of the idol immersion ceremony on Vijaya Dashami for years, and there should be no question of a change in routes.

But the veteran leader, who also throws Iftaar party every year, gave an assurance that the sentiments of both communities will be respected.

Ms Banerjee had earlier banned processions for immersion of Durga idols on October 1, reportedly on advice of the police, triggering criticism that she was driving a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. Last week, the court scrapped the order, saying one cannot “draw a line between Hindus and Muslims” and exercise “extreme power without any basis”. The day after, the state government decided that police permission will be necessary for immersion of Durga idols on Muharram, which is on October 1.