KOLKATA: About 8,000 cops will hit the streets from 4 pm on Monday as Durga Puja festivities start on Tritiya amid the pandemic. The state had urged committees for a Tritiya opening to space out the Puja over the next eight days till Dashami to ensure physical distancing. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday inaugurated 12 south Kolkata pujas.
With offices open till Thursday, the cops will be hard-pressed to keep evening traffic moving, along with the people visiting pandals.
On Sunday, some local police stations had to move in reinforcements to control visitors at pandals. Abhishek Bhattacharya, general secretary of Tala Barowari, said the rush was such that they had to put up extra barricades and request people to come back on Monday. At Mudiali in south Kolkata, one of the key organizers, Ashok Dey, said people have been coming since Saturday itself. “We will appeal to everyone to follow rules set by Kolkata Police.”
“We had to send reinforcements from local police stations in the evening. This was after reports that revellers had come in front of popular pujas in Gariahat and Kasba,” said an officer.
Police, though, said the pressure on evening traffic will not be like earlier years when Kolkata came to a grinding halt — courtesy, three factors. “Office-goers are less in numbers. VIP movements, including Puja judging by celebrities, have been mostly cancelled. And finally, suburban crowd will not be in Kolkata in absence of trains,” an officer said.
Special arrangements have been made for “choke points” like Rashbehari Avenue, Hatibagan and Tollygunge Circular Road.