Pandal hoppers in Kolkata can use the ‘Bondhu’ app to locate friends, relatives or children who get lost in the sea of crowd during Durga Puja. The Kolkata Police had launched the app last year to help people lodge grievances and alert cops at Lalbazar control room in case of any danger by pressing the panic button. The app can also be used to keep human trafficking in check.
Several incidents had been reported in the past when people, visiting the city during Durga Puja, were lost in the crowd and later spotted by the police, who helped them return to their families. Unattended children were also vulnerable to fall in the trap of human traffickers during the festival.
“There are instances when people deliberately leave behind their children or old parents by taking advantage of the huge number of people visiting the pandals during Durga Puja,” Shashi Panja, the Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare told PTI.
The Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department, along with the Kolkata Police, had arranged for eight decorated child-friendly vans in each of the eight divisions under the police jurisdiction.
“The vans would rush to the pandals after receiving message about any person or a child getting lost from their family members in the crowd,” Panja said.
As part of their initiative, directions had been given to puja committees to keep on making announcements about such incidents. Quick response team, stationed nearby, would be alerted to trace the missing children, distressed women or senior citizens.
Besides, the Kolkata Police emergency number 100, child helpline 1098, women helpline 1091 and missing persons’ helpline number 9002999999 would be available for the five days of Durga Puja festivities, the minister said.