A Saraswati Puja pandal was reportedly found burnt down in West Bengal’s Dasnagar area, in Howrah District on Sunday night. Apart from the pandal, even the Saraswati idol was set ablaze by the arsonists. As per reports, this incident has happened at the puja organised by the Green Star Club, which has been performing such a puja for the past 25 years.
The incident is supposed to have happened in the wee hours of the night as the decoration and arrangements for the puja went on till 2 AM, following which the organisers decided to go home. The fire was noticed within the next hour, after which locals rushed to douse it using bucket full of water and fire tenders were also called in. The police too were informed of the incident.
As per ANI, the criminals perpetrated the crime to allegedly extol vengeance against locals who closed their liquor shops near that spot:
Howrah (West Bengal): Pooja Pandal & idols of Goddess Saraswati set ablaze in Dasnagar’s Baltikuri allegedly by some people whose liquor shops at the spot was closed by locals earlier #VasantaPanchamipic.twitter.com/mljIaCLbib
— ANI (@ANI) January 22, 2018
The organisers have also claimed that the local criminals run a parking lot where people drink, play cards and also perform certain illegal activities.
The Saraswati Puja in West Bengal was also riddled in controversy a year back, when Muslim groups had stopped a school from celebrating Saraswati Puja in West Bengal’s Uluberia.
We had reported the tensions had risen in the Tehatta High School after Muslim groups and locals had forcibly entered the school in December to celebrate Nabi Diwas (Birthday of Prophet Mohammed), which included making religious speeches. They had later also proceeded to vandalise the school property.
About a month later, when the date of Saraswati puja started nearing, such groups again demanded to celebrate Nabi Diwas on 28th January. The headmaster as a result begged the Uluberia police to take some preventive steps as the school could see another forcible gathering and protests. This allegedly angered the groups as they again vandalised the school property.
The district inspector of schools, thus, ordered the school to remain shut until further notice, thereby ensuring that the 65 years old tradition of Saraswati Puja celebrations stood cancelled.