News Brief

Arrested For The ‘Crime’ Of Bursting Crackers: How The Indian State Clamped Down On Diwali Celebrators

Representative image (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Indian Supreme Court (SC) in October 2018 passed an order regulating the timing of bursting firecrackers during Diwali. The court ruled that celebrators would be allowed to burst crackers only between 8 to 10 PM during Diwali.

While pronouncing its judgement, the SC also instructed all police officials to strictly ensure compliance otherwise they would be liable for contempt of court.

While the order is also applicable to Christmas and New Year, it caused a lot of outrage among social media users who pointed out that bursting crackers is an integral part of Diwali celebrations and any restriction is a direct onslaught on the festival itself.

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Many have argued that a institutional clampdown on bursting crackers - mostly prevalent among children would systematically erode a pivotal element of Diwali and would have far reaching cultural ramifications on Hindus and other Indic believers.

Just a few days later it was reported that a 35-year-old man became the first in the country to get arrested for ‘illegally’ bursting crackers by violating the court mandated time frame.

As per reports, by the end of Diwali the Delhi police had registered 550 cases and arrested over 300 people for violating the SC’s cracker order. Among those booked included 24 children, against whom cases were filed under the Juvenile act.

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A total of 78 Diwali celebrators were arrested in the Noida and Greater Noida and many were booked under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.

A few months later it was reported that one of those arrested was convicted by a local Delhi court and the presiding judge decided to let him off with a Rs 500 fine for having a clean record.

Increasing The Crackdown Intensity This Diwali

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In what may come as no surprise to anyone, this year too the law enforcement agencies decided to heavily crack down individuals bursting crackers beyond the 8 to 10 PM time frame.

The Delhi police decided to pick up where it left-off last year and as reported, it has arrested 166 and registered 315 cases against people for the crime of bursting crackers beyond the designated time period.

The Delhi police seems to have swung into action much ahead of Diwali to ensure that the orders of the Supreme Court are adhered to.

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The Kolkata police too was very active this Diwali and as per reports, it arrested an unprecedented 758 individuals for bursting illegal crackers. The number of arrested in West Bengal’s capital goes up to 1,190 if one includes all cracker related arrests.

In some cases Kolkata police also climbed the stairs to the rooftops of Kolkata’s high-rise apartments to arrest people for bursting crackers.

This year the Tamil Nadu police filed a total of 497 cases in various parts of the state. The number of cases filed though witnessed a marked decline from the high of 2,176 filed last year.

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Another Angle To This Story

While many have demanded that the police first and foremost improve the law and order situation in Indian cities rather than clamp down on cracker violations, the point remains that most of the cases have been filed in response to complaints made by the general public.

As reported, the Delhi police received a total of 940 police control room (PCR) complaints against the bursting of crackers.

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Similarly Kolkata’s Lalbazar police station received 139 complaints against the bursting of crackers. Some individuals residing in the city’s Baranagar and Pathakpara are also considering knocking the judicial doors against bursting crackers on Diwali.

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