Thick security blanket for Durga Puja in Kolkata

October 5th, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Oct 5 (IANS) Watch towers, hidden cameras and commandos trained in combating militant strikes are the novel features as the city was wrapped in a thick security blanket for the Durga Puja - the main festival of West Bengal - which is just a night away.After the serial bomb blasts in Bangalore, Delhi and Agartala, and a couple of hoax emails threatening blasts in Kolkata, the eastern metropolis is ready to immerse in the festivities amid heightened security.

Over 20,000 police personnel were ready to be deployed on the streets for the four Puja days, beginning Monday.

“We will install at least 70 hidden cameras at all the major Puja pandals (marquee) in south and north Kolkata. Besides there will be CCTVs (close-circuit televisions) in almost all pandals to keep an eye on the visitors,” said city police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty.

Automatic gun-wielding Quick Response Teams, all of whose members have been given special commando training for tackling militant strikes or armed riots, have been kept in full readiness, he said.

Twenty one watch towers have been set up in pandals which are likely to draw large number of puja revellers, he added.

The Kolkata Police have also taken inputs from several intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau and Defence Intelligence Agency before finalising the plans for the festival days.

“We have not got any message that raises concerns. But still, we are keeping no stone unturned to ensure fool-proof security,” he said.

The police have banned cycle parking at the puja pandals to avoid a bomb blast.

“We have declared that no cycle will be parked in front of the pandals this year,” he added.

This is the time when people from across the state come to Kolkata to see various pandals and idols.

“For the first time we have trained some members from some of the noted puja committees and made them join our volunteer team here. The volunteers will make work easy for the police by keeping a vigil on the crowds of visitors and control them,” Chakraborty said.

Additional police personnel have already been deployed at the metro railway stations, railway stations and other important junctions of the city.

“The number of policemen at metro stations across the city has been increased from 70 to 250. Similarly there will be additional deployment of at least 4,000 policemen across the city during the puja,” Chakraborty said.

Besides, the police have asked parents to write down their details with their children.

“There are chances that kids may be lost amid the crowd at a pandal. So we request all parents and guardians to keep a chit with the kid mentioning all their contact details, names and blood group of the kid,” the commissioner said.

The city police have also arranged for additional 300 beds at all the government-run hospitals during the puja, he said.

However, security is not just the concern of the police but the puja organisers too.

“This time we are accommodating a door-frame metal detector at the entrance of our pandal to avoid any untoward incident,” said Anadi Roy, one of the puja organisers from Barisha Club of Behala in south Kolkata.

The Jodhpur Park puja pandal in south Kolkata will even have a special squad of sniffer dogs hired from a private security agency.

“Besides, our volunteers will be roaming about with metal detectors and a number of CCTVs have been installed across the pandal to keep a vigil on the happenings,” said Sanjay Bose, an organiser of Jodhpur Park Sharadiya Puja Committee.

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