Kolkata: Durga puja committees are worried about managing the crowd of visitors during the puja. In the midst of thousands of doubts, to encourage entrepreneurs, chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee said last month, "Durga puja has to be done in a proper manner. If you want to worship, you have to keep in mind the neighbourhood too. It is the responsibility of all the groups to take care of their neighbourhood.”

Many of the committee members were encouraged by the announcement of the Chief Minister. However, they are confused now by the instructions of the police who have told them to stop puja preparations for now.

Many of the committee members have complained that since last Sunday (August 30), the officials of several police stations have called or met the big puja committees in their area and asked them to stop puja preparations for the time being. Confused by this, many have stopped the construction of the mandaps.

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Shaswat Basu, general secretary of Hatibagan Sarvajanin Puja and Forum for Durgotsab, claimed, "A total of 11 police stations like Thakurpukur, Behala, Haridebpur, Bhabanipur, Muchipara, and Shyampukur have done this without the instruction of the higher department of police."

But after the forum informed the government about this, all police stations have denied this. On Sunday (August 30), the puja committee members were called again from all the police stations and informed that there is no obstacle in the preparation of puja.

Debashis Bhattacharya, a member of the puja committee in Kumortuli, claimed that he had received such a call from Shampukur Police station.  He said, “All the preparations have started for the Durga puja. The artists of the mandap have also come. We were supposed to start the construction of the mandap on Wednesday (September 2). But last Monday, the Shampukur Police station called and told me not to start work now. However, it is better to start work as soon as the instruction is received that the puja will take place.”

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Samir Ghosh, a puja committee member of Chetla Agrani, alleged that the Chetla Police station had instructed them to stop the puja work. He said, “The officials of Chetla Police station suddenly came and said yesterday (September 2) to stop the construction of mandap for two to three days.

Puja committee members of Bakulbagan, Bhawanipore and Haridebpur's Ajay Sanghati are also surprised by the order to stop work.

Sanjay Majumder, a puja committee member from Thakurpukur SB Park, was worried last Sunday (August 30) when he received an order from Thakurpukur Police station to stop the work. This is the 50th year of their Durga puja. Sanjay Babu said, “Many plans had to be cancelled this time for COVID-19. Now also, we are thinking about sponsors and various problems.”

But why was such an instruction given by the police?

None of the top officials of Lalbazar Police station wanted to open their mouths on this matter. No officer of the concerned police station wanted to comment.

An official with the rank of Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police has said, “By this time, every year, the instructions are given by the government to permit the puja committees to prepare for Durga puja. This time it did not happen. In this situation, if the road is blocked without government instructions to build a mandap, then the pressure comes later. With that in mind, the police station requested commencement of work after assessing the situation for a few days.”