The city police claimed that Calcuttans celebrated this year’s Diwali peacefully as they were less tormented by banned crackers, unlike in the past. With the arrest of 485 people in the city, on charges of bursting high-decibel crackers, the police proved more “active” than last year, when the arrests were less than 400.
Sivaji Ghosh, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said: “Altogether, 21 kg of banned fireworks were seized in the raids, carried out in different parts of the city. This year, the number of complaints was also less than the previous years.”
In the city, the south topped the list of arrests — 80 people were picked up from different areas. “Our officers rushed to the spot as soon as they received complaints about high-decibel crackers. Most of the culprits were caught in action. Besides, we have booked a number of businessmen under the Explosives Act, as a huge quantity of banned crackers was found in their possession,” said Ghosh. “All the arrested will be prosecuted under Pollution Control Board Act and Calcutta Police Act,” Ghosh added.
Officials, however, admitted that keeping vigil on Diwali was a tough job. “Complaints started coming in from Monday afternoon. Initially, we were informed that crackers were being chucked from highrise terraces. We deployed policemen on the rooftop of such buildings and picked up several persons from Shakespeare Sarani, Park Street and Bhowanipore,” said a senior officer.
Debasish Roy, deputy commissioner of police (reserve force), said: “We were able to curb such incidents this year as all the adjoining district administrations, too, had initiated a drive against the menace. The banned crackers are outsourced from Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas districts. So the cooperation of district police helped us check Diwali sound pollution.”
Chayan Mukherjee, inspector-general of police (law and order), claimed on Tuesday that cops did well to curb sound pollution in the city’s adjoining areas. “We had received only 52 complaints from North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts. Around 1,836 people were picked up for bursting high-decibel crackers. There were only two complaints from Salt Lake,” Mukherjee added.
Residents of Lake Town and Baguiati, however, were unhappy with police action. Residents on S.K. Deb Road expressed their displeasure and criticised the role of Lake Town police station. “Local youths kept bursting crackers throughout the night and yet when we complained to the police, they did not respond,” said a resident.
M. Harisena Verma, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, said 13 people were held from Lake Town and Bangur Avenue on Tuesday. “Officers rushed to the spot as soon as they got complaints. It may not be possible to attend to every complaint but we did our best,” he added.