850 held for flouting curbs, 1.2k cases filed
Despite a blanket ban on bursting all forms of firecrackers in the capital, fireworks were seen in different parts of the city on Diwali with the city police registering 1,206 cases on Saturday for sale and use of crackers and arresting/detaining 850 people for violating the government orders.
Data provided by the police shows that the number of people booked and held for selling and bursting firecrackers on Diwali night and in the days preceding it far outnumbered cases last year when there was a ban only on non-green firecrackers.
On Diwali day and days preceding it, the police registered a total of 1,292 cases and held 926 people. In contrast, last Diwali season, the police had registered 433 cases and arrested 261 people.
The outer-north police district reported the most number of cases (165) and the highest number of people, 165, were apprehended from there, said police officers.
This year, the sale and bursting of PESO-certified firecrackers was initially allowed in Delhi and there was a ban only on other polluting firecrackers. So, the Delhi Police had issued licences to 167 shops to sell firecrackers by November 4.
But the Delhi government on November 5 banned bursting of all firecrackers. Following this, the Delhi Police revoked all the licences on November 8.
But firecrackers continued to be sold in the neighbouring towns of the National Capital Region until November 9 when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned firecrackers across cities and towns where air quality was categorised as “poor”. These included the NCR towns as well.
A senior Delhi Police officer said that it was too late by the time the Delhi government and NGT bans were announced. “A lot of firecrackers were already sold legally before the NGT imposed the ban. So, many people had already purchased firecrackers,” said a senior officer.
The officer also said many Delhiites who burst crackers on Diwali night had bought them from neighbouring cities. This was despite the police’s repeated assertions that they were carrying out checks at borders to prevent people from bringing in firecrackers into Delhi.
“We carried out random checks of vehicles, the way we do to prevent smuggling of illicit liquor, but it was not practically possible to search each and every vehicle,” said the officer.
The seizure of firecrackers was much lesser this year compared to the previous year. This time, 4,725 kilos of firecrackers were seized compared to 9,758 kilos last year.
The maximum amount was seized from outer district where the police found 286 kilos of firecrackers.
The police said that many bursted crackers from their terrace or balconies to evade police action. “We had an active presence on the streets, but there is only so much you can do about people bursting crackers in their buildings,” said another police officer.
Unlike last year, when the police shared a break-up of the cases and arrests made separately for bursting and selling firecrackers, this time the police only shared a combined data for Diwali night.
The number of cases registered included FIRs as well as Kalandara notices to people caught bursting firecrackers. The police explained that a Kalandara notice sent under CrPc section 107 is a legal action that does not include an FIR, but a report is sent to court about the offence and the offender.
While a person against whom a Kalandara notice is sent does not need to apply for bail, he or she has to appear before a court.
The police did not specify how many people it registered FIRs against and how many received a Kalandara notice.
The police also did not specify how many people it arrested formally and how many were “boundown”. While a person who has been arrested needs to seek bail from the court, those boundown are let off from police station after taking assurances.