While enjoying the glitz and the festivities at Durga Puja pandals and Dussehra melas in the capital, do keep a close watch on your belongings.
According to the Delhi Police, in the last three days alone there have been over 120 cases of theft, 54 cases of sexual assault and harassment and 23 cases of violence reported from celebration venues.
The lack of ample police officials at pandals this year has largely affected security at several popular venues.
According to organisers, these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg as every day the organsiers get umpteen numbers of complaints of thefts and violence for which the police refuse to register complaints.
“Security is a major concern, especially when you are catering to thousands of people. However, in the past few years, getting permissions and deployment of ample police security at our pandals has become a stressful affair. Even if the officials are stationed at the entry gates, the security checks are a mere formality,” said BK Dutta, president, North Delhi Durga Puja Committee.
This year, the number of such cases also witnessed a visible spike. In 2014, in the puja week, 54 cases of theft, 23 cases of sexual harassment and eight case of violence were reported. Though the police claim that security has been beefed up outside pandals and additional deployment made in popular venues, figures tell a different tale.
Twenty five-year-old Resham Das was with her family to witness the famous Rameela and Dussehra fair of Old Delhi when a woman mildly brushed her arm and walked away. It was only after a few hours did she realise that she was missing ` 5000, two credit cards, her drivers’ licence and several bills.
“I opened my handbag to pay for a game that my children wanted to play and realised that it had a huge slit in the bottom and my wallet was missing. I kept running around the ground to find some police official who could help me out, but no one did,” she said.
Due to the growing number of such incidences, several puja organisers have started arranging private security services. Apart from booking security agencies for guarding pandal gates, this year many have also set up private drones and CCTV cameras to photograph and record the entire event for security reasons. “We have bought 12 drones from an online shopping website to record our functions.
I think we need to do our bit to keep our pandals safe and to ensure that the event is successful. We have also set up security centres where volunteers take down details of any case of security breach are and pass it on to the police,” said Shantanu Chatterjee, organiser of CR Park I-Block pooja.