The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eve-tease blot on biscuit base

The cookie at Kasba has crumbled amidst controversy, with organisers of the Rajdanga Nabauday Sangha being “forced” to immerse their idol in a hurry.

The biscuit bastion erected at Bosepukur was drawing in the crowds on Nabami when a youth manning a barricaded lane leading to the pandal allegedly “misbehaved” with two young girls. The 19-year-old volunteer was picked up by the police, but the prospect of thousands of pandal-hoppers queuing up at the Kasba puja for the next few days, prompted the police to force the issue and call for a Dashami bhashan.

“We were forced to immerse the idol on Tuesday,’’ said Dhruba Dutta of Rajdanga Nabauday Sangha. “We had initially planned to immerse the idol late on Wednesday. But the outrage following the unfortunate incident and police pressure compelled us to change plans and hastily immerse the Devi on Tuesday,’’ he added.

Additional superintendent of police, Rajesh Singh, who was in charge of security arrangements in Bosepukur, said the ‘culprit’ was arrested on Monday after two women standing in the puja queue complained that he had “misbehaved” with them. “They alleged that the youth was drunk and repeatedly made indecent gestures at them. He also tried to molest them, the girls alleged,’’ Singh said.

The girls complained to the commandant of Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) N.K. Singh. Police then picked up the teenager and took him into custody.

The incident sparked a furore. “There were more than 8,000 people standing in queue at that time and we had to turn many revellers away to prevent any untoward incident,’’ Shakeel Ahmed, deputy superintendent of police, said. Police later summoned the organisers and directed them to make arrangements for the immersion “as soon as possible”.

Dutta, however, claimed that the arrested boy was not a member of the puja committee. “We had given identity cards with photographs to about 100 volunteers. They were assigned specific duties. The boy who was picked up had stolen an identity card and put in his own picture. We are trying to find out how he got the card,’’ Dutta said.

The goddess is gone, but what about the pandal' The club authorities are now weighed down by 25 quintals of biscuits used to decorate the pandal, the chandelier and the lamps. “We spent months creating this edifice with biscuits hardened in a heat chamber, but we don’t know how to dismantle the pandal and where to dump the biscuits,’’ admitted artist Kishore Das.

And the clock is ticking away for one of the most bizarre creations this Puja as the police have directed the organisers to clear the pandal within the next couple of days.

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