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CM curb on immersion schedule

The chief minister on Thursday fixed the dates for Durga Puja immersion almost three months in advance.

“This year Navami and Dashami are on October 3. Id (-uz-Zoha) is on October 6, followed by Lakshmi Puja the next day. So people of both communities have to be tolerant and show respect to each other’s religion,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said while addressing Puja organisers and imams at Nazrul Mancha on Thursday.

“Like in previous years, puja committees are free to bring out immersion processions on Dashami (October 3) and the next day. But there will be no immersion on October 5. The next day, after we celebrate Bakri-Id, immersion will be allowed from 8pm till early morning. It is a Bengali ritual that Goddess Lakshmi cannot be worshipped before bidding farewell to Goddess Durga. So the immersion has to be completed before we celebrate Lakshmi Puja on October 7,” she added.

The chief minister, after making the announcement, sought verbal consent from representatives of the communities present in the auditorium. “Ki, shobai raaji toh (Does everyone agree to my proposal)?” she asked. The hall erupted in a unanimous “hya (yes).”

Representatives of over 50 puja committees attended the event, Sharad Samman-2013. Also present were senior functionaries of Calcutta police, Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the information and cultural affairs department.

The three departments gave away cash rewards — some as high as Rs 1 lakh — to at least 110 puja committees and volunteers for their service in the festive season last year.

Banerjee instructed the city police to improve traffic management in some pockets on the eve of Durga Puja.

“Thousands of people come here during the festive season. Traffic needs to be clear. It is for the police to remove small obstacles to ensure a smooth traffic. I find that some places, like the Park Circus seven-point crossing, congested. Calcutta police, in collaboration with the CMC, should broaden the roads,” the chief minister said.

The chief minister also announced plans to set up Dhana-Dhanya Stadium in Alipore and turn the Nandan-Rabindra Sadan-Academy of Fine Arts complex into a cultural centre named Visva Bangla.

Mamata also offered the job of a homeguard to the widow of Raju Goala, the Calcutta police homeguard who was shot dead with his service revolver while he was on duty in Thakurpukur last week. The government also offered the job of a green police volunteer to Vivek Yadav, who was injured in the firing that killed Goala.