Three injured in mini-stampede to see ‘world’s largest Durga idol’

Kolkata, Oct 19 (IANS) At least three people were injured in a mini-stampede on Sunday as lakhs of people visited a a marquee in Kolkata that boasted of having installed the world’s tallest idol of the goddess Durga, forcing police to temporarily close down the place to visitors.

Durga puja

Eyewitnesses claimed 12-13 people were injured.

In a late night press conference, city Police Commissioner Surojit Kar Purokayastha said the organisers, who went on an advertisement blitz for months, had not received the necessary permissions, and declared that steps would be taken in accordance with law.

The Deshapriya park marquee, which had drawn over one lakh visitors on Saturday, attracted an equally huge crowd on Sunday, stalling traffic movement across south Kolkata.

Vehicles stood in queues for hours on vital thoroughfares, causing buses to standstill for hours, and at one point even the Kalighat metro station close to Deshapriya Park was closed down for some time.

Durga puja — the biggest festival in this part of the country — begins from Monday, but marquees in the city had been drawing revellers after they were thrown open to people this week itself.

“Lot of people had assembled. The arrangements made by the organisers was not sufficient. At this moment, we have stopped visits to the marquee. There are other marquees where people can go to,” said Purokayastha, who took the metro train to reach the spot alongside other top police officers because of the traffic snarl.

A spokesman for the organisers said two-three people had been injured. “Our pandal was overcrowded, which resulted in this situation. Two-three visitors were injured due to a piece of bamboo giving way and suffered some bruises. One of the injured had to be rushed to hospital.”

The commissioner, who visited the marquee with all other top officials of city police, said: “Our topmost priority is to ensure there is no untoward incident or accident. A very bad situation was created. We have all come here. We are reviewing the situation. We will tackle the situation along with the organisers.”

“We won’t allow anything which in any way compromises the security of the common people.”

Blaming the organisers, the top cop said: “They did not have the requisite permissions. We will review everything, see whether they have fulfilled the conditions. We will take steps as per law.”

He conceded that police had not anticipated such a large crowd.

The Deshapriya Park marquee had seen a huge build-up for months, with advertisements in the media and in billboards claiming it had set up the tallest Durga idol in the world.

The idol, made of cement and fibre glass, has been placed outside the pandal with the sky as the canopy because of its massive size. The organisers have even written to the Guinness World Records, requesting the authorities to ensure it features in the annual as the world’s tallest Durga idol (between 80 feet and 100 feet).

The idol was inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday.

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