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Calcutta HC Eases Some Durga Puja Regulations, Pandals Still 'No Entry' Zones for Visitors

The new number of people who can be allowed at once inside a pandal is 45.

Kolkata: The Calcutta high court has relaxed some of the conditions of its significant order on Durga Puja festivities. Pandals, however, still remain no-entry zones for people.

Hearing a plea against its order on October 19, the bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee raised the number of puja committee members or organisers who will be allowed into the pandals.

The earlier number was 15 to 25 and their names had to be displayed prominently outside the pandals. These names, the court had said, could not be changed from day to day.

The new number of people who can be allowed at once inside a pandal is 45. This includes not just organisers but also local residents and dhakis who are traditional drummers intrinsic to the festival. A list of 60 names in total has to be prepared in advance by puja committees, reported Anandabazar Patrika. This list can be changed daily.

Workers, some of them in masks, carry a Durga idol to a pandal. Photo: PTI

The Forum for Durgotsav Committees, which moved the plea, has called the revised regulations a “moral victory.”

There is no permission yet for the community sindoor khela, a ritual where women smear each other with vermillion on the last day of the pujas.

Doctors in West Bengal have overwhelmingly welcomed the order, as have a wide section of the general public.

The ruling Trinamool Congress had said on Monday that a lot of people would be disappointed with the order declaring puja pandals no-entry zones. Several TMC leaders are organisers of some of the biggest Durga Pujas in Kolkata.

The BJP, which is organising a Durga Puja at Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in Salt Lake, said it would adhere to the court order.

CPI(M) Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty said the verdict would save hundreds of lives. CPI(M) leader Bikash Bhattacharya, who was Kolkata mayor at one time, was the lawyer for the petitioner who moved court seeking the curbs.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that due to the unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year everybody has to make some sacrifices.