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The directive will not allow saffron outfits to hold rallies with weapons on occasions as Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. It will also bar Shia Muslims from Muharram processions with swords. The Kolkata police, in an order issued on Friday evening, banned carrying of weapons in public places across the city and its suburbs for one year. “I, Rajeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, do hereby, prohibit any person from carrying of swords, spears, bludgeons, or other offensive weapons in any public place,” reads the notice.
The prohibition will be effective between January 2, 2018 and January 1, 2019 and will apply to areas under the jurisdiction of Kolkata police. However, sources in the state administration said that the director general of the West Bengal Police is also likely to issue a similar instruction.
While this directive will not allow saffron outfits to hold rallies with weapons on occasions as Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti — both scheduled slightly ahead of panchayat elections next year — it will also bar Shia Muslims from Muharram processions with swords.
The state witnessed a high voltage political showdown between the ruling party, Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over armed processions across the state in April this year.
Leaders of the saffron camp had justified the processions saying the government never barred Muslim organisations from rallies with weapons during Muharram. “This directive shows the government is scared of the euphoria over Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti seen earlier this year. We will wait to see whether the ban applies on Muslims as well,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told HT. Muslim organisations welcomed the move. “We’ll be happy to see the administration implement it,” said Mohammad Abdur Rafique, secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s Bengal chapter.
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