Hours after the Calcutta High Court barred visitors’ entry to Durga Puja marquees (pandals) and ordered to declare the pandals no-entry zones, the state police alerted people to follow social-distancing norms, and said they were ready to make changes to arrangements already in place for the festival.
“This year, we celebrate a different Durga Puja as we prepare to welcome the goddess in these pandemic times. When you step out, keep your distance, wear a mask, and enjoy responsibly. Stay healthy, stay safe, keep fighting the Covid demon!” tweeted West Bengal Police.
The police said they had not received the court order yet. “We haven’t received the court order yet. All arrangements are in place, but if required, changes will be made. However, we will request people to maintain social distance and wear masks when in crowd,” a senior officer said on the condition of anonymity.
Though Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked the police to be prepared to manage crowds from “Tritiya”, or the third day of the puja, the police force will be out on the streets in full strength from Tuesday, according to officials.
The police here have already erected 52 watchtowers, and installed an additional 73 CCTV cameras. Kolkata has been divided into 12 sectors and 16 Deputy Commissioner-ranked officials have been given the responsibility to monitor and control crowds with the help of 8,000 police personnel working in three shifts.
According to officials, apart from a permanent control room at the Lalbazar police headquarters, a temporary control room will be set up to coordinate and monitor the situation.
Police will also deploy 25 High Radio Flying Squads to patrol the city. There will be police help desks in seven places in the city, and 13 quick response teams will be deployed at important crossings. Four missing person squads will also be on hand to help people.
There will be 800 police pickets near Durga Puja pandals across the city, besides police assistance booths.
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