Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Calcutta police will get someone with TAPE to measure the "world's biggest Durga"
Calcutta police will get someone to measure the "world's biggest Durga" before it builds a case against the organisers of the Deshapriya Park puja.
Sources said Lalbazar's planning and survey department had been asked to find out how tall the idol was, without which it would be impossible to establish that the organisers had violated norms laid down by Calcutta High Court regarding the maximum height of a puja pandal.
Since the idol at Deshapriya Park is said to be 88ft tall, the police might have to seek help from the pandal makers - decorators, as they are called - to get someone up with a measuring tape.
"We have registered a case against the organisers of the puja for allegedly violating the court's order pertaining to the height of a pandal. We will now have to submit a chargesheet in court mentioning the findings of our investigation," a senior police officer said on Monday. "In this case, the height of the structure is crucial and we will have to mention it in the chargesheet."
The task assigned to the police's planning and survey department is, of course, not something it does routinely. The department's responsibilities include measuring disputed land and drawing up maps for police projects. "We have 100ft and 200ft measuring tape, one of which can be used to confirm the height of the idol. There are scaffolds in the rear of the structure, which can be used to reach the top," the officer said.
The high court's order regarding the size of pandals mentions that "the height of the super structure (pandal) can be no more than 40 feet."
The police forced the Deshapriya Park puja shut on Panchami evening following a near-stampede and laid bare the lack of preparedness to deal with large crowds. Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha had got off his vehicle to take a Metro train from Esplanade to reach the venue after traffic was paralysed across south Calcutta.
Sources said the order to keep the Deshapriya Park puja closed to the public for the remainder of the festival came from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, based on the realisation that the administration wasn't prepared to cope with the tidal wave of visitors triggered by a publicity campaign centring on the height of the idol.
As if on cue, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the fire services department and the police said they hadn't granted permission to the Deshapriya Park puja to build such a large idol. It is a different story that mayor Sovan Chatterjee was among the guests at the opening of the puja.
Asked why the police allowed the organisers to build the structure when it was visible to everyone that the height limit had been breached, a senior officer said the local police station did send an "objection letter" to the organisers but they didn't pay heed. "The officer-in-charge of the local police station had asked the organisers several times to stop construction and we have documents to prove it," he added.
Sources in Lalbazar said the puja organisers' political connections helped them ignore the police's objection to the height of the idol.
Sudipto Kumar, a brother of mayoral council member Debasish Kumar, is the secretary of the Deshapriya Park Durgotsav. Baishanor Chatterjee, who heads Trinamul's legal cell, is the puja's chief patron.
Sources at Lake police station said the office-bearers of the puja committee would be interrogated during the course of the investigation. "We will record their statements and mentioned it in the chargesheet," an officer said.
What an irony that in this city of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, our police are stumped on measuring the height of the Durga image. People can now measure the distance between distant stars but our police are still using a tape to measure the height. Are they just prevaricating so that the people involved may go scot free? Any student of trigonometry could calculate the height from the ground itself, using instruments. If the police asked any of the Engineering colleges like shibpur or Jadavpur, I am sure they would help them, that is if the police is really interested.