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In Photo: The “tallest Durga Idol” at Deshapriya Park in south Kolkata on Sunday morning. 

Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 18 October: EVEN as the Durga Puja is formally scheduled to begin on Monday evening with Maha Shasti, all major community puja pandals from north to south Kolkata are witnessing exorbitant crowd since Sunday afternoon.

So much so that unable to manage the huge surge of pandal hoppers, Kolkata Police at 6.30 pm this evening have temporarily closed down the Deshapriaya Park puja pandal in south Kolkata to visitors. The pandal showcases a 88 feet Durga Idol, which the organisers claim to be the tallest Durga Idol of the world.

The pandal was closed down after a stampede-like situation at the entry gate to the puja pandal a little before 6 pm and around 11 visitors sustained minor injuries. Timely intervention by a handful of cops deployed at the park premises saved the lives of these visitors.

A woman, who was rescued by the cops, broke down into tears while narrating her harrowing experience. “My aged mother fell down on the ground due to a sudden push and when I tried to save her, I too fell below. At that point, around 20 people fell over me. I would have died if the cops did not rescue me then.”

With Kolkata’s all major thoroughfares chock-a-block due to pandal hoppers, Kolkata Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha and other senior cops were forced to travel from Esplande to Kalighat station by a Metro train. They then walked to the Deshapriya Park puja pandal, which is about 1 km away, and reviewed the situation there.

While the police commissioner did not say when the puja pandal would be opened to visitors again, sources in the city police said that the pandal would remain shut for the rest of tonight.

Police are unhappy with the scant numbers of deployment of volunteers and inadequate medical facilities that have been put in place by the puja organisers. Police have the organisers for a meeting on Monday morning. Decision on reopening the pandal will be taken in that meeting.

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