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October 5, 2013

Safety for all during Durga Puja, with special focus on women

Safety for all during Durga Puja, with special focus on women

The Ministry of Home Affairs, West Bengal, headed by the State`s Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee herself, has issued strict directives to the city police ahead of the festive season. Other than maintaining law and order the reinforced police force will give special attention to women`s safety.

Kolkata Police has a task cut out to ensure a safe and hassle-free Puja for Kolkatans not only during the Puja days, but also on the days ahead of Durga Puja.

Police is not leaving anything to chances and they are taking all steps to make sure no untoward incidents take place in the city during the month long festivity.

The entire Kolkata Police force, 25,000 strong, plus 7,000 personnel pulled in from other units and police training schools, will be deployed for Puja security with special emphasis on making women feel safe. Apart from the regular forces, this year there will be an additional deployment of 300 women constables, 2,000 male constables, 2,000 home guards and 4,000 volunteers.

Around 600 CCTV cameras have been installed across the city at strategic points. Puja organizers have been asked to install CCTV cameras.

Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha met senior officers and asked them to give special attention to women safety. “Pre Puja security arrangements are in place at markets where footfall is high. During the Puja days a 24 hrs protection will be provided to the citizens“ he said. Extra night vigil will cover at least 100 points and will see more than 500 extra men on the road. All five wings responsible for maintaining security – the STF, detective department, division, traffic and Special Branch – have been asked to work in tandem.

The detective department has been told to watch out for snatchers and molesters in the Puja crowd. Extensive arrangements have been made so that women in trouble can quickly reach out to police. “We`ll act instantly on harassment complaints,“ Joint Commissioner (HQ) Rajeev Mishra said. At all time, there will be 10,000 personnel on the road and another 2,000 on stand-by, he added.

The anti-rowdy squad has identified 25 vulnerable areas and is drawing up a list of gangs for likely preventive arrests. There will be 8 mobile assistant squads across city and new helpline numbers will be issued before the Pujas.

Patrolling vehicles 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,“ said an officer. The control room directly monitors the movement of this vehicle. The Chandni Chowk-Park Street stretch alone will see deployment of over 100 extra cops till the end of the festive season.

Elaborate arrangements have been made for technical surveillance in Esplanade. “We had approached several private companies, five star hotels and shopping centres and requested them to realign their CCTV cameras. Many of them have responded to our 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. We are now in a position to carry out post-incident analysis,“ explained an officer.

Police will also use video cameras provided to police stations to maximum utility. “At present, we have motorcycle patrolling teams that use these cameras. We have devised a plan under which a radius of 1.5km will be covered by one patrol party that will record suspicious movements. We will now be visible even at night at several important crossings all through the year, “ said an officer.

In a bid to assure security at night for the residents of Salt Lake, and to capture evidence of any scuffle or mishap during the Pujas, surveillance cameras are being installed on the police patrolling cars in Bidhannagar. 

Police vans can now be seen with night vision cameras fixed atop the vehicles.  Four police cars have already installed these cameras, the images from which can be viewed on cell phones once connected to the Internet.

The commissioner can track the surveillance process and get a vivid picture of work on the ground through this technique.

These cameras are fixed on the roof of the vehicle, with a monitor placed on the dashboard that displays the recording. The storage space depends on the capacity of the hard disk, which allows storing the data for at least 30 days.

20 spots prone to traffic jams during the Pujas have been identified. “We will ask 4,000 traffic cops to be on the streets in three shifts during the Pujas“ said an officer. It has been decided that 2,000 extra home guards will be posted during Durga Puja this year he added.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to people in the State to remain vigilant during the Durga Puja, while she was speaking at a function on 4th October.