Muslim groups oppose Bengal panchayat polls during Ramadan

Kolkata, June 30 (IANS) With the West Bengal panchayat polls slated to be held during Ramadan, Muslim organisations Sunday took out a rally in the city and submitted a memorandum to the State Election Commission (SEC) demanding the elections not be held during their holy month.

“Members from the Muslim community irrespective of political affiliation gathered to make an appeal to the (SEC) to ensure that the panchayat elections are not held in month of Ramadan,” said Mohammad Ayazul Haque, the convenor of the rally.

According to a Supreme Court order, the panchayat polls are slated for July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25 while Ramadan begins from the second week of July.

Hundreds of people holding posters and shouting slogans marched to the SEC office where they submitted the memorandum to SEC chief Mira Pande.

“We met Pande but she said that she was unable to do anything as the polls were held as per a directive of the Supreme Court,” added Haque.

Several other Muslim organisations have threatened to move the Supreme Court in case the polls are held during Ramadan.

“We would urge the SEC to ensure the elections are held either before the month of Ramadan or after it. If they do not consider our demands, we will move to Supreme Court,” said Mohammad Qumaruzzam, general secretary, All Bengal Minority Youth Federation.

Political parties, including the Congress and Left Front, have expressed their displeasure over the scheduling the polls during Ramadan and blamed the Trinamool Congress government for it.

Congress leader Abdul Mannan even said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should publicly apologise for inconveniencing the Muslim population.

The state government though had expressed it desire to approach the apex court seeking the polls are concluded before Ramadan.

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