In light of the recent arrests of six Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants from different parts of the state, the Kolkata Police have decided to beef up security and enforce an extra layer of surveillance across the city during the upcoming Durga Puja festival.
Around 5,000 police personnel will be deployed at all important crossings starting from ‘Chaturthi’, the fourth day of the festival. From ‘Panchami’ to ‘Navami’, the number of personnel will increase. Over the last four days, around 12,000 police personnel will be keeping close vigil across the city. Twenty-five heavy radio flying squads and 25 divisional mobile vans will be keeping watch as well. Moreover, 46 watch towers and drones will be used to “study crowd activities”, while 27 trauma care ambulances and two mobile vans to report missing persons will be stationed to help pandal hoppers.
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The women, child and social welfare department has also collaborated with Kolkata Police to launch a special project ‘Bandhu Kolkata’, under which they have distributed CDs to different puja committees with helpline numbers. They have issued a special helpline number ‘9002999999’, which will help pandal hoppers trace missing persons.
“Altogether, 73 extra CCTVs will be installed in front of important crossings and puja pandals across the city to maintain close surveillance,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Supratim Sarkar. “There will be additional police deployment at metro stations and other important points. Disaster management personnel will also be deployed…Though there is no specific terror threat, we have beefed up security sensing the sensitivity of Durga Puja at this time,” he added. Sources said around 750 CCTVs have been installed across the city.
Special arrangements have been made to ensure smooth traffic for pandal hoppers. To help them navigate, police have launched an Android-based app called “Utsavapp”, which will help people locate the nearest Durga puja pandal as well as the shortest route to get to it, besides providing other information and updates. It will also enable people to upload photographs. On Monday, Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar launched the ‘Indian Oil Kolkata Police Puja Guide 2016’ in the presence of Indian Oil General Manager R N Mahapatra and Additional Commissioner of Police (I) Vineet Goyal.
Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) V Solomon Nesa Kumar said, “Four deputy commissioners, 18 assistant commissioners, 700 sergeants, 1,000 NCC volunteers, 400 NGO volunteers and 500 temporary crowd controlling volunteers will be present on the roads. We have also chalked out a plan for handling the morning crowd. We will be providing updates related to traffic on radio channels as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Traffic control will be round the clock.”
“To ensure that festivities are safe and hassle-free unlike previous years, there will be strict vigilance against bikers without helmets or anyone found breaking road safety rules,” Kumar said. Keeping the popularity of Deshpriya Park pandals in mind, the vicinity has been divided into four zones to control the crowd.