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Cops coin a couplet to drown the din
- Police go on poster campaign to spread the word on sound pollution, extortion

The city police have put up 4,000 posters in the Beniapukur, Tangra, Topsia, Entally, Maniktala and Ultadanga areas to create awareness among residents against sound-producing crackers and extortion.

The posters, designed by a leading advertising agency, show a police officer leading a group of children. There is also poem, penned by Shoven Banerjee of Beniapukur police station.

Banerjee said on Sunday that the posters were put up over the past week in the east Calcutta areas. “We are taking the help of the local clubs and puja committees to put up the posters. They have been told to ensure that the posters do not deface newly-constructed walls or inconvenience the area’s residents,’’ he added.

According to records available with the police, east Calcutta was one of the most affected areas last year, with residents complaining of sound pollution from firecrackers. There have also been complaints that puja committees were extorting money from traders and residents as subscription for the pujas.

The police concluded that it would be impossible to put an end to the “silent” extortion by the puja committees and the deafening sound of crackers “unless the people come forward to help us out.’’

Initially, the cops decided to issue an appeal through jan sanjog sabhas (mass contact meetings) with the area’s residents. But it was found that the message was reaching only a handful of people — only those attending the meetings.

So the top brass opted to run a decibel-drown campaign through posters.

Deputy commissioner of police, eastern suburban division, Sanjay Mukherjee, said the police decided to make the people aware of the menace through popular means, like catchy poems and visuals, instead of forcing the message.

“No amount of coercion is sufficient to stop people from bursting crackers. They have to be convinced against it,’’ he said.

But why did they decide on writing poems and putting up posters' The police said posters are a great medium of attracting the attention of the people and reaching out to the masses.

“With a catchy poem, we hope to carry the message across to thousands of people,’’ Banerjee said. There are about 500 authorised puja committees in east Calcutta.

Police on Sunday said the posters had been well-received by the target audience. “We have a positive feedback. I hope there will be lesser incidents of sound pollution by crackers this puja,’’ Mukherjee said.

Puja committee officials said the posters were an effective medium of advertisement. About 50 big-budget puja committees have put up their own posters, alongside those pasted by the police, urging people to visit their innovative and decorative pandals.

“Posters are an excellent medium of advertisement and we have found that our publicity has reached a large number of pandal-hoppers,’’ an east Calcutta puja committee member said.

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