October 11, 2013
Kolkata Police – The Unsung Heroes of Durga Puja
Come every festive season, the most thankless job is performed by the Kolkata Police. And for the past three years they have outdone their performance of managing the crowd, with absolute finesse. The most difficult and challenging task the Kolkata Police has to face annually is probably during the Durga Puja. It brings out the best in the Traffic Department of the esteemed Police Force while manning the overcrowded roads, streets and puja pandals. Like previous years, this year also saw a record crowd in the city during the puja days, starting from Chaturthi on October 8. Through effective and efficient management, proper planning, the flow of traffic was well-managed. The public appreciated this effort.
Kolkata Police has installed 700 CCTV cameras across the city. There are eight mobile assistance squads, adequate women officers and plain clothed men keeping round the clock vigil. It is an elaborate security arrangement for the biggest socio-cultural carnival – the Durga Puja.
Special security arrangements for the Durga Puja started from Mahalaya. Special arrangement has been taken up for areas which receive maximum footfall, like College Street, Gariahat, Rashbehari, New Alipore, Behala among others. Besides deploying plain clothed officers, Kolkata Police has ensured that there is 24-hour police presence. For the assistance of female revelers, sufficient women officers have also been deployed in and around the pandals. More women police officers are being posted at strategic points post 11pm. A patrolling vehicle has been dedicated to respond to emergency calls. The patrolling vehicle with women officers has been asked to follow a dedicated route and serve key areas like Bowbazar, New Market, Shakespeare Sarani, Park Street and Bhowanipore. A control room has been set up to directly monitor the movement of this vehicle. In addition, over 500 extra cops have been deployed across the city. The Chandni Chowk-Park Street stretch is witnessing deployment of over 100 extra cops till the end of the festive season.
To control the record crowd at various big-ticket pandal areas, N.C.C. cadets, a good number of scouts, students and several other non-government organisations have been roped in to manage traffic during the puja days. Elaborate arrangements have been made for technical surveillance in Esplanade. Several private companies, five star hotels and shopping centres were approached to and requested to realign their CCTV cameras. Many of them have responded to the request. The CCTV cameras that were capturing images of the entrance doors of these buildings earlier face the pavements now. As a result, all the pavements and entry points to the business district have come under technical surveillance. Kolkata Police is now in a position to carry out post-incident analysis.
Kolkata Police have also decided to use video cameras provided to police stations to maximum utility. Motorcycle patrolling teams are using these cameras. A plan has been devised under which a radius of 1.5km is being covered by one patrol party that will record suspicious movements. All five wings responsible for maintaining security – the STF, detective department, division, traffic and Special Branch – have been asked to work in tandem.
The number of traffic helplines too has been increased so that citizens can check out their routes before they begin their pujo parikramas. Moreover, there will be a large number of police personnel in plain-clothes to keep watch on the trouble makers and eve-teasers. The main arrangements that kicked off on Shashthi has seen the maximum focus on security and traffic management between 3.30 pm and stand down though Kolkata Police had to increased its presence on the road after the wee hours of the morning. It was decided to post security personnel outside each Metro station too.
Kolkata Police has broken up the 2700 odd Pujas in to different zones and each zone is being headed by a DCP. Several ACPs are working under them and has been assigned specific tasks. There are a large number temporary watch towers at places adjacent to almost all major pujas. A number of sub-control rooms have been set up to help augment the functioning of the central Lalbazar control room during the Puja dates. The traffic police have also identified 20 traffic spots that are prone to jams during the pujas. 4000 traffic cops are on the streets in three shifts on each day of the pujas. These 20 stretches are witnessing extra deployment.
West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee has asked the police to keep a strict vigil so that there is no disruption of law and order. `During the Sarod Utsav, I have asked the administration to keep a close watch and take steps against forcible collection of subscription. Like the past two years, the Traffic Police should ensure that people could visit the puja pandals without trouble`, she said.