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Calcutta High Court partially relaxes its order declaring Durga Puja pandals as 'no entry zones'

Kolkata: A community puja pandal displays portraits of people from the Sunderban area, who were affected in cyclone Amphan, ahead of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata,. (PTI)Premium
Kolkata: A community puja pandal displays portraits of people from the Sunderban area, who were affected in cyclone Amphan, ahead of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata,. (PTI)

  • Calcutta High Court has allowed 'dhakis' to be present outside the no-entry zone in each pandal
  • The Calcutta High Court has said for smaller pandals, 15 persons are to be allowed, while 60 people are allowed for large pandals

With just few days left for Durga Puja, Calcutta High Court today partially relaxed the order in which it declared that a certain number of people be allowed to enter the Durga puja pandals in Kolkata.

Calcutta High Court while hearing the petition over setting up of pandals during Durga Puja, has allowed 'dhakis' to be present outside the no-entry zone in each pandal.

The Court also said for smaller pandals, 15 persons are allowed, while 60 people are allowed for larger pandals.

Counsel for the forum submitted before the court that as Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the Bengalis and lot of emotions are attached to it, the number of people who can enter the marquees be increased for offering "anjali" and also during "sandhi puja".

Earlier an association of Durga Puja organisers in the metropolis on Tuesday filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking "minor modifications" to its order that marquees be made 'no-entry zones' to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The list of 60 people who can stay inside the pandals for big pujas will have to be put up daily, the court said.

The court also said a maximum of 45 people can be present inside the marquees at a time.

A division bench of justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee had on Monday ordered that barricades be put up around all the Durga Puja marquees in the state to prevent the entry of anyone barring a few puja committee members.

The 'Forum for Durgotsab', which has over 300 puja committees under its umbrella, has sought "little modifications" to the order, its counsel and TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee said, without giving further details.

He submitted before the court of Justice Sanjib Banerjee that the order was passed without hearing out the puja committees as they were not a party to the case.

The forum also sought the court's guidance on conducting community 'pushpanjali' rituals by adhering to the order, one of its founder members, Partha Ghosh, said.

"We had decided to conduct the rituals in a staggered manner by not allowing more than 20 devotees at a time. Now, with the court directing maintenance of 5-metre distance from smaller marquees and 10 metres from the bigger ones, we need to be clear on how to organise community 'pushpanjali', Ghosh, also an office-bearer of the Shib Mandir Durga Puja, told news agency PTI.

The forum also sought clarity on categorisation of big and small pujas, he said.

"We had made elaborate arrangements for separate entry and exit points. But, with the court's order, there is a possibility of crowding near the marquees and visitors bumping into one another.

"This will be a problem even more for the pujas organised on narrow lanes, where visitors are not allowed to return on the same route after seeing the idols," another forum member Saswata Basu said.

A renowned Durga Puja committee, the Mudiali Club, while appreciating the court order issued in the interest of people's safety, said in a Facebook post that allowing only 25 committee members inside the marquee will deprive others of an opportunity to worship the goddess.

*With inputs from agencies

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