Bengal govt denies permission to BJP chief’s rath yatra

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 The West Bengal government has refused permission to BJP president Amit Shah’s proposed ‘rath yatra’ from Coochbehar on grounds that it might cause communal tension, the state’s advocate general informed the Calcutta High Court on Thursday.

Kishore Dutta told the court that the Coochbehar superintendent of police refused permission for the BJP president’s rath yatra from Friday.The state submitted that it might cause communal tension.

Asked by the judge who will take responsibility if anything untoward happens, BJP counsel Anindya Mitra submitted it is the duty of the state government to maintain law and order.The advocate general opposed the BJP filing a supplementary affidavit opposing the refusal of permission, saying it can either come with a fresh petition or an amendment to his petition.

The BJP moved the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday claiming that the West Bengal administration and the police were not responding to its applications for permission to take out three rallies in West Bengal from December 7.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah is scheduled to kickstart the party’s ‘Save Democracy Rally’, comprising three ‘rath yatra’, in the state.

As the matter came before a bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty, the counsel for the BJP and Advovate General Kishore Dutta countered each other’ claims, after which the court told the two sides to sit together and sort out the issue before returning to court.Later, the AG said that the three rallies entailed huge security arrangements and he would require instructions from the state government. He sought time till Thursday, which was granted by the court.

This is not the first time that the BJP has approached the court with such a grievance in the state. The saffron party claimed in the court on Thursday that several letters sent to the DG-IGP and the home secretary, seeking permission for the three rallies, did not elicit any response.

The BJP campaign is scheduled to begin from Coochbehar district in the north on December 7, from Kakdwip in the South 24 Parganas district on December 9, and from the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14.Advovate General Kishore Dutta told the court that the DG-IGP or the home secretary was not the competent authority to grant permission for the rallies, which, as a political party, the petitioner (BJP) should have known.

The petitioner should have known to whom the application needed to be sent, he said.Following this, the BJP counsel said they had also applied to the Superintendents of Police of the districts through which the three ‘rath yatras’ were scheduled to pass.

Appearing for the BJP, senior counsel Anindya Mitra submitted that the rallies, named ‘Ganatantra Bachao Yatra’ (Save democracy rally), are yet to be given permission though letters for the same were sent to DG-IGP of state police on October 29 and then to the home secretary on November 14.

Reminders were given to the officers on later dates, but the BJP did not receive any reply, he stated.Mitra told the court that Governor K N Tripathi had also written to the state government for considering the applications.To this, Dutta said that the Governor is a constitutional authority and it does not befit someone holding such an august office to write with regard to a political party’s application.

Mitra submitted that silence of an authority is tantamount to refusal of permission.

Justice Chakraborty observed that the DG-IGP, being a responsible officer, should have informed the applicants that he is not the competent authority.Dutta submitted that the three yatras are to be held over a period of 41 days traversing all the districts of the state and it is not possible to decide on the security aspects within a day.

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