In a major blow for the Mamata Banerjee government, the Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered that all Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal will have to be turned into no-entry zones for visitors. The court said all puja pandals should be treated as containment zones.
The Calcutta High Court also came down heavily on the Mamata government that allowed the festivities despite a warning by medicos that the decision could prove to be catastrophic amid the coronavirus chaos.
Last month, the Mamata Banerjee government had announced that it plans to put coronavirus under lockdown and allow the festivities. However, the decision seems to have clearly backfired and resulted in a lot of criticism for the Bengal government, especially when other states have cancelled their local festivals.
Notably, the 10-day festivities have already begun in Kolkata, with thousands of people thronging the major pandals. However, Mahasaptami—the day when the traditional Durga Puja actually begins—is still 3 days away.
Only organisers allowed in Durga Puja pandals
The Calcutta High Court clarified that only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals. It also limited the number of people who would be allowed—25 for big pandals and 15 for the smaller ones. The limit has been imposed considering the coronavirus pandemic.
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The division bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee has directed the police to strictly implement its orders and ensure that every puja organizer complies with the same.
All pandals will have to erect barricades at their entrance. The barricades should be erected at a distance of 5 metres for small pandals and 10 metres for the bigger ones.
HC seeks report from Bengal police
Court further said that the measures have been taken since it will be difficult to police 5-6 lakh people who would be on the road for pandal hopping.
The DGP of West Bengal and Commissioner of Kolkata Police have to submit a report to the court within four days of Laxmi Puja which is on October 30.
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