The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Busted: Rich cracker cache

Siliguri, Oct. 23: Firecrackers, worth around Rs 35,000, were seized from the side of Burdwan Road last night, nine days ahead of Kali Puja. No arrests were, however, made.

The seizure came a day before a scheduled meeting was held at the police station today, where representatives of Kali Puja committees were told about the norms and safe practices to be followed during the festival and subsequent immersions.

Giving details about last night's haul, the inspector in-charge of the Siliguri police station, Prasanta Chanda, said: 'It is most likely that the fire-crackers were being transported by bus to some place in the Dooars. The shipment, some of which were in cloth-bound boxes and the rest in a wooden crate, was spotted by our personnel during who were patrolling Burdwan Road last night.'

The police official said it was around 8 pm. 'The boxes were kept on the roadside. We think that the people transporting them were waiting for a bus towards Jalpaiguri or beyond, and when they saw the police jeep, they disappeared, leaving the fireworks behind,' he said.

The containers had 448 boxes of chocolate bombs, 48 boxes of noise-making rockets, and 10 round-shaped tins of multicoloured rocket bombs, each worth Rs 500. All the fireworks have been manufactured in Sivakasi in south India. So far, no claimants have turned up for them, police said.

This is the second consignment of fireworks being seized in the Siliguri region this season. On Mahalaya, crackers, worth Rs 5,000, were confiscated from the Pradhannagar police station area.

More consignment of such fireworks is likely to be found at the Tenzing Norgay inter-state bus terminus here, the police officer said.

During the meeting at the Siliguri police station, which was attended by additional superintendent of police Tripurari as well as two deputy superintendents of police, the various dos and don'ts were enumerated to the Puja committee representatives.

The committees were asked to submit their applications for police clearance by October 26, after they get no-objection certificates from the fire department, state electricity board and the owner of plots where the pandals will be erected. After finding everything in order, the police will forward the applications to the subdivisional officer for final permission. 'Till today, we have received applications from 63 committees,' Chanda said.

Residents of the area have been asked to contact the police in case any Puja committee tries to collect subscriptions forcefully. 'They can call us at 266-2101/2677 or 252-0849. We will take action, keeping the complainant's identity confidential,' the police officer said.

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