Two of the Bondel Road shops that were allegedly damaged by puja organisers. (Amit Datta)
The signboard of a medicine shop on Bondel Road was allegedly damaged by organisers of a Kali puja after the owner refused their demand for a Rs 20,000 donation.
Rakesh Kumar Prasad, the owner, found two letters missing from the signboard of JP Medical Stores on Diwali morning. The signboards of the two adjoining shops were also damaged.
Prasad lodged an FIR with Gariahat police station on Thursday, accusing members of Ballygunge Sarbajanin Shyama Puja Committee of damaging his shop and extortion. The owners of the other two shops have not lodged police complaints. One of the shops, JP Homoeo Point, shares the same address as JP Medical Stores (64A Bondel Road). It could not be confirmed whether Prasad owned both shops.
Residents of the area said all three shops had been damaged because the owners did not donate as much money for the neighbouring puja as the organisers had sought from them.
“Prasad, a resident of East Purbachal in Haltu, has said in his complaint that the signboard of his shop was damaged since he had refused to give in to the puja organisers’ demand for Rs 20,000. He named three of the organisers. We have started a case for extortion, mischief and criminal intimidation,” said an officer of Gariahat police station.
The FIR mentions Bivas Yadav, general secretary of the puja committee, and Rahul Sinha and Bishu Yadav, its joint secretaries, said police sources.
None of the puja organisers could be contacted despite repeated attempts.
On Friday, Prasad refused to speak about the complaint he had lodged.
An employee in an adjacent store said on condition of anonymity: “The puja organisers demanded a donation of Rs 501. We told them that we would not pay more than Rs 100, after which they visited the shop several times and abused us.”
A flex outside the shop was found damaged on Diwali morning.
The signboard of a stationery shop adjoining JP Medical Stores was found shattered the same morning. An employee in the shop claimed ignorance about how the signboard got damaged. “I joined the shop today. I have no idea how it happened,” he said on Friday.
Residents said lights outside another local shop were shattered by puja organisers.