Kolkata Durga Puja organizers receive legal advice for using slippers in pandal to show plight of farmers
A Kolkata-based lawyer sent legal advice to the organizers of a Durga Puja Committee in the Dum Dum neighborhood of the city for allegedly “harming religious feelings” by using slippers to decorate their pandal themed in the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new agricultural laws, the Anandabazar Patrika reported on Saturday.
The notice was sent after members of the Bharatiya Janata party, including West Bengal opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari, also called for the slippers to be removed from the pandal.
Meanwhile, members of the Dum Dum Bharat Chakra Durga Puja committee said the pile of slippers had been placed as an art installation to symbolize farmers’ protests. They also pointed out that the facility was installed at a distance from the actual pandal, PTI reported.
In the legal notice sent to the organizers, lawyer Prithvivijay Das described himself as a “Hindu Sanatani” who is “unable to come to terms with the use of shoes in a pandal Durga Puja”, the Anandabazar Patrika reported.
Das warned organizers of “tough steps” if they don’t remove the slippers. “It hurt my religious feelings,” he said in the notice. “It was done intentionally to hurt the religious feelings of ordinary people.”
Prateek Chaudhary, secretary of the organizing committee, however, said the art installation was only put together as part of a larger theme to showcase the farmers’ movement against the three laws on the agriculture adopted in September of last year.
Organizers said their theme included references to past peasant movements as well as recent violence in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. Eight people, including four farmers, were killed during a demonstration against agricultural laws.
On Saturday, BJP MP Suvendu Adhikari urged the West Bengal government to “force the organizers” to remove the shoes from the pandal.
“A Durga Puja pandal in Dumdum Park has been decorated with shoes,” he said in a tweet. “This heinous act of insulting Maa Durga in the name of ‘artistic freedom’ will not be tolerated.”
Party leader and former Tripura governor Tathagata Roy also said the shoes near the pandal hurt the feelings of the Hindu community, PTI reported.