As all Durga puja pandals and adjoining roads in Bhubaneswar are now jam-packed with devotees, miscreants, pickpockets, and snatchers are on the prowl to take advantage.
This became evident after a spate of loot, snatching, and pickpocketing cases came to the fore in the last couple of days, and it has become a cause of concern for devotees.
Devotees, mainly women, are now scared of wearing gold jewellery while venturing out to have darshan of the Goddess at pandals.
Niharika, a woman devotee who was a victim near Bomikhal Puja mandap yesterday, said: We reached the puja mandap at 8.15 pm on Sunday and moved out at 8.40 pm. When I checked my bag to buy something, all my valuable articles were missing from the bag. There were many valuable documents and a pen drive in the bag.”
Another woman devotee, who visited Saheed Nagar puja mandap, observed, “We now feel scared lest my jewellery and articles would be stolen or snatched when we would be busy having darshan of the Goddess amid the crowd. We heard about a loot incident yesterday at Saheed Nagar Puja pandal. Members of the Puja committee are warning people against theft and pickpocketing.”
Sachidananda Nayak, general secretary of Saheed Nagar Puja Committee, said, “On the day of Sasthi, a loot incident had taken place. We tried to trace the accused and found that some children are involved in cases of loot, pickpocketing and snatching. After such cases, we appeal to devotees to be careful and keep their articles with care.”
According to reports, over 20 loot incidents were reported from various parts of the city on Sunday alone, prompting police personnel into action mode.
Meanwhile, police have caught 26 suspected looters after checking CCTV footage at different places. Most of them reportedly are from Bihar & Jharkhand while sources said that the gang has over 100 members.
It is said that snatchers are setting their eyes on gold pieces of jewellery, money purses, smartphones, and other valuables.
ACP(Zone-4), SN Muduli, said,” At Bomikhal puja mandap, we have caught eight non-Odia people and recovered four cell phones from their pockets and two small knives. Most of them are from Bihar. They will be arrested after prima facie evidence against them.”