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HC refuses BJP permission for Amit Shah's Rath Yatra, party says will wait for final order

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata/Coochbehar 

on Thursday refused permission to the BJP for holding a 'Rath Yatra' in Coochbehar, which was to be flagged off by the Shah on Friday, after the West government refused to allow the event saying it may cause communal tension.

The BJP decided to put on hold Shah's proposed rally and the Rath Yatra, saying it will wait for the final order from the high court, which will now hear an appeal by the saffron party on Friday morning.

Justice directed that the rally stands deferred till the next date of hearing on January 9 and observed that the prayer of BJP for permission for it cannot be granted at this stage.

Appearing for the state, General told the court that the rally will create communal disharmony and submitted to the a report in a sealed cover, which he said delineates apprehensions of disturbance to peace and communal disharmony by intelligence agencies.

The court directed superintendents of police of all districts in West to file a report before the court on holding of Rath Yatras, peremptorily by December 21, after hearing all the district presidents of BJP.

Immediately after the order was passed, lawyers for the BJP went to the chamber of and prayed for constitution of a special bench for hearing its appeal on Thursday evening as the normal court hours had ended for the day, party said.

The refused to constitute a special bench and asked the BJP lawyers to move the appeal before the court on Friday morning at 10.30 am, he said.

The saffron party had scheduled three Rath Yatras in West which are to pass through all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

In New Delhi, the accused Chief Minister of running a "dictatorship" in the state and alleged her government refused the permission as she was busy playing "of appeasement".

The BJP campaign, which the party has named 'Save Democracy Rally' and has projected it as a "game-changer" in Bengal politics, was scheduled to begin from district in the north on December 7, from Kakdwip in South 24 district on December 9, and from in district on December 14.

The BJP told the court the rallies will converge and culminate in Kolkata by January 16.

Noting that the rallies will take place for over a month covering all districts, the court asked, "Can the mere undertaking of an that the rallies will be peaceful be enough to allow? "If something happens, who will be responsible?"

Justice Chakraborty asked whether it will be possible to make security arrangements within the short time of less than a day.

The BJP's said a number of applications had been given to the state authorities from October 29 but it had sat on them only to inform in court on Thursday that permission for the rally at was refused.

To this Justice Chakraborty asked the BJP counsel, "If a common man dies today, will your district be responsible?"


The court is concerned about the safety of the people, he said.

BJP submitted that a division bench of the high court had in January allowed another set of motorcycle rallies by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) after putting certain conditions and prayed that similar order be passed in this case also.

Justice Chakraborty said the situation in which the earlier order was passed is not similar and that the BJYM rally was for only seven days.

The AG told the court that the Cooch Behar SP has refused permission for the rath yatra.

He said the district has a history of communal issues and that there was information that some "communal provocators and rowdy elements have become active" there and expressed apprehension of breach of peace.

The SP had said several top BJP leaders would come to Coochbehar, as also people from other states, and this may affect the communally-sensitive district.

The AG said the refusal of permission was an administrative decision in view of the ground situation and "details of apprehension" cannot be spelt out in open court due to their sensitive nature.

Asked by the as to who will take responsibility if anything untoward happens, Mitra submitted that the party will hold a peaceful rally but it was the duty of the to maintain law and order.

The BJP submitted that the Constitution guarantees the right to hold political programmes and that assumption of untoward situation cannot be a ground for refusal.

When the judge asked if he was agreeable to deferment, Mitra answered in negative and said the party had started preparations a long time ago and had approached the administration for permission in October itself.

In Coochbehar, BJP said that BJP is a "responsible political party" and it will obey the court order.

"Our entire preparation for the Rath Yatra program is complete. Shah is also ready to come tomorrow," he told a press conference.

There was disappointment in the after the court order, leaders said, adding massive arrangements were made for the Rath Yatra, which would be a "game changer" in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 20:50 IST
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