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COVID-19: Delhi Disaster Management Authority prohibits setting up pandals during Ganesh Chaturthi

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority has issued an order prohibiting setting up of pandals during Ganesh Chaturthi and said there will be no religious procession on any occasion, including Moharram, in the city because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an order issued on August 14 to all district magistrates, DCPs and other authorities concerned, the DDMA said that people will be encouraged to celebrate the festival at their homes.

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Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, ahead of the festival season, said all DMs and district commissioners of police will hold meetings with religious leaders before any festival that has the possibility of a large gathering to get their cooperation to maintain law and order, harmony and also to sensitise people to comply with guidelines.

Dev, who is also the chairman of DDMA’s state executive committee, said it should be ensured that the crowd does not gather in any religious or social places. “During Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, no idol of Lord Ganesha shall be set up in the tent/pandal/ public place, nor any kind of permission shall be granted for procession… similarly, no permission shall be granted for procession/tajiya during Moharram,” the order stated.

Sufficient police force will be deployed in all communally sensitive areas and containment zones across the city, it said. The chief secretary directed officials to make all necessary arrangements for checking at all public places, bus stands, railway stations, sensitive and religious places before any festival.

Due arrangements should be made for deployment of dog squads, anti-terrorist squads and bomb disposal teams for intensive search and checking at religious and public places as per requirement, it stated. “Smooth and uninterrupted traffic at roads and public places should be ensured. Necessary arrangements should be made for checking of suspicious vehicles by erecting barricades and police check posts,” the chief secretary said in the order.

He said all government hospitals will be prepared in advance to deal with any emergent situation and doctors and para-medical staff will be on duty round the clock. Special attention will be given to anti-social elements and rumour mongers, he said, adding that social media platforms will be monitored round the clock.

“Prompt action shall be taken against all objectionable posts by first blocking it and thereafter taking strict legal action. Section 144 (CrPC) shall be imposed wherever required and police authorities shall ensure implementation of the same,” he added. Strict legal action will be taken against those found in possession of illegal weapon and arms, he said.

“All necessary arrangements should be made to ensure the safety of women, children and senior citizens and sufficient police deployment (male and female police personnel) be made in civil dress at all public places,” Dev added

All empowered authorities may resort to imposing fines for violating the directives, he said, adding that all enforcement authorities should be properly briefed about the strict implementation of the instructions a day before every festival.

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