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Police from Panchami

Calcutta, Sept. 1: Calcutta police will deploy forces on Puja duty from Panchami this year instead of Sasthi.

Around 30,000 personnel will be deployed on city streets during Durga Puja, it was decided today at a meeting between the police and more than 100 puja organisers at Kalamandir.

“Thousands hit the streets from Panchami. So we have decided to deploy forces from that day,” said Jawed Shamim, the joint commissioner of police (headquarters).

He said the forces would be deployed from 6pm on Panchami, which falls on October 19.

Another officer said: “All major pujas are usually inaugurated on Chaturthi and people hit the streets after that. The traffic situation worsens because office-goers return home around the same time that pandal-hoppers come out. The situation goes out of control when people from the suburbs start entering the city for pandal-hopping.”

Police officers urged Puja organisers to take a lesson from the AMRI tragedy and take proper fire-safety measures at pandals, especially the air-conditioned ones.

“The fire department has been asked to inspect AC pandals to ensure that fire-safety measures are followed,” an officer said.

The police turned down the organisers’ request to put up overhead gates on thoroughfares leading to pandals.