Diwali cracker curbs go up in smoke amid poor enforcement in Punjab

Restrictions imposed on bursting firecrackers were violated with impunity in various parts of Punjab, as police failed to ensure strict compliance on Diwali.

Even as celebrations went on much beyond the two-hour window (8-10pm) announced by the state government, only a handful of FIRs were registered in various districts.

These were registered under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, but the violators remained unidentified in most cases.

Following the National Green Tribunal’s directions to control pollution during festivities in India, chief minister Amarinder Singh had announced a two-hour window for the use of only green firecrackers on Diwali and Gurpurb, except in Mandi Gobindgarh where a blanket ban has been imposed. The CM had also asked director general of police Dinkar Gupta to crack down heavily on violators.

Only 5 FIRs in Amritsar, none in Tarn Taran

Even as crackers were being burst even on Sunday morning, only five cases were registered against unidentified violators in the Amritsar commissionerate area, while none was registered in Amritsar Rural and Tarn Taran police districts.

In the two districts, 14 fire incidents were reported, of which three in Amritsar were major. However, no one was reported to be injured.

A limited number of licences for selling green crackers were issued in the two districts, but many vends were reportedly set up illegally in densely populated markets of various towns and cities.

“What is the point of issuing the order of a two-hour window, when there is nobody to implement it? People kept bursting firecrackers the whole night without any fear of law, and no cop was there to check it,” said Harikrishan Arora, a social activist in Tarn Taran.

Tarn Taran superintendent of police Jagjit Singh Walia said no illegal sale of crackers was found by special teams constituted for the purpose. “We are trying to identify those who burst crackers beyond the two-hour window,” he said.

8 booked in Ludhiana, 14 in Jalandhar

In Ludhiana, bursting of crackers went on till 2am, but only eight FIRs were registered against unidentified people. Meanwhile, 17 people suffered burn and eye injuries while busting crackers.

The Jalandhar commissionerate registered only 14 FIRs, with one each at 14 police stations under its jurisdiction.

On no one being named in the FIRs, police said violators had left the spot by the time teams reached there and efforts are on to identify them.

In Mohali, 25 FIRs were registered for flouting cracker regulations, said senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh. Last year, not a single case was registered. Thirteen cases of minor burn injuries were reported at hospitals in the district.

Firemen remain on their toes in Malwa region

In Ludhiana, 33 fire incidents reported on Diwali night, including three major factory fires at Rahon Road, Tibba Road and Sahnewa. Goods and machinery worth lakhs perished, but no casualty was reported.

Also, 26 fire distress calls were received in Mohali, but only two turned out to be major. A scrap dealer’s godown at Behlolpur village went up in flames along with 25 used cars and other equipment. Blaze also engulfed a house at Bhabat village in Zirakpur, and it took three hours to bring it under control.

Around 2,000 cotton bales that were stacked in the open at an industrial unit were gutted at Abohar in Fazilka district on Diwali night. The fire is suspected to have been caused by a cracker.

In Bathinda, a gifts shop godown was gutted at Amrik Singh Road, while in Faridkot, a garment shop at Hukki Chowk was destroyed in fires the same night. In Moga, firecrackers led to a blaze at a scrap godown on Nihal Singh Wala Road at Bagahapurana.

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