The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trouble trilogy in puja wake
- Clashing revellers lathicharged, dozen rounded up for rioting

Sparks flew late on Sunday at Barasat, on the city’s northern fringes, and it all had to do with the festival of fireworks. By the time the dust had settled on a triple tale of trouble, four cops and two local residents had suffered injuries, a police vehicle was damaged and 12 people were arrested on charges of rioting.

Trouble broke out late on Sunday on the Sodepur-Madhyamgram stretch, when Poltu Das, a resident of Krishnapur Road, was driving back home. At Ukilpara, in the Ghola thana area, a ‘chocolate bomb’ was tossed at his car. The explosion rattled Das, who stopped to protest.

A group of local residents indulging in post-Kali puja revelry turned on Das, heckled him and then smashed one of the car’s windows. Das returned to his para and alerted members of a local club, who returned to the troublespot.

Clashes broke out between the two groups. Police were greeted with brickbats when they tried to pacify the rivals. Four cops were injured before a lathicharge was launched and the mob dispersed. A dozen ‘rioters’ were rounded up.

At around the same time, some three km away, there was trouble with a political twist at Madhyamgram. A gang of around 15 youths from Vivekanandanagar stormed the Kali puja pandal of Netaji Sporting Club and vandalised it. Some members of Netaji club were beaten up, and one of them had to be hospitalised.

Madhyamgram police, who restored order, later alleged that the assailants, backed by the CPM’s local unit, were out to teach their rival Trinamul Congress-powered puja “a lesson”, as the festivities organised by the Netaji Sporting Club had emerged as the most popular in the area. Earlier, the Vivekanandanagar puja would enjoy pride of place. No arrests were made.

The final episode of Sunday night’s trouble trilogy centred around an immersion procession. At Hridaypur, under Barasat police station, local residents, on their way to immerse the goddess in a nearby pond, paused in front of the pandal of Amra Kojon, the largest puja organisers of the area.

Members of the club — several of them “outsiders”, police said — raised a ruckus and ordered the processionists not to block the path to their pandal. A scuffle broke out, and the large Amra Kojon gang chased the immersion group out of the area.

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