Kolkata Police has stopped the public viewing of Durga Puja at Santosh Mitra Square, which has been getting major attention this year because of its pandal and idol, on the last day of the five-day festival following an alleged electrical short circuit inside the pandal. According to a senior police officer of Kolkata Police, smoke was seen coming out of the chandelier at the Santosh Mitra Square puja pandal at around 1.10 am tonight following which the public viewing of the idol was stopped. “There was a huge sound inside the pandal at around midnight. Several thousand people were at the pandal at that time. After a short while some of our police officers spotted smoke coming from the chandelier ceiling lamp following which the decision to stop public viewing of the puja was taken for the sake of public security,” he told PTI.
Fire department along with a team of police personnel rushed to the place. Puja organisers, however, rubbished any short circuit incident and alleged that the police had “conspired” to close public viewing as it had failed to control the huge rush of visitors. The organisers had a verbal duel with the police personnel posted at the pandal premises.
“This is absolute nonsense. There was no smoke inside our puja pandal. If there was any fire there must have been some sign of it around or inside the pandal. This is nothing but a conspiracy of Kolkata Police who had failed in controlling the crowd visiting our puja,” Santosh Mitra Square Puja Committee president, Pradip Ghosh said. “Kolkata Police hav been non-cooperative throughout Puja … I know Kolkata Police are doing this on the instructions of some influential people who are jealous because our puja has been pulling more crowd than their’s,” he added.
In fact, Santosh Mitra Square Puja Committee members gheraoed local Munchipara police station this morning demanding immediate revoking of the order. “We will continue our demonstration until common people are allowed to view our puja,” Ghosh said. Teams of PWD civil, electrical and fire departments will visit the Santosh Mitra Square Puja for an inspection later in the afternoon, the Kolkata Police officer said. “Until we get a no objection certificate regarding the security we will not be able to allow people inside the puja pandal,” he said.
Santosh Mitra Square puja pandal has been drawing very large number of visitors not only for its gorgeous London-themed pandal but also to view the idol of goddess Durga which has been clad in a 22 kg gold saree of 22 carat which costs Rs 6.5 crore. Replicas of the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Bridge are the chief attractions of the pandal at the sprawling ground in central Kolkata. In 2015 the Kolkata Police had stopped Durga Puja in south Kolkata’s Deshapriya Park following a near-stampede situation as the pandal hoppers gathered in thousands to see the nearly 88-feet idol there.