Arrested by pollution

Gurugram: Smoke rises as people burn crackers during 'Diwali' celebrations, in Gurugram, Wednesday, Nov. 07, 2018. According to the officials, Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the year the morning after Diwali as the pollution level entered 'severe-plus emergency' category due to the rampant bursting of toxic firecrackers. (PTI Photo)(PTI11_8_2018_000045B)

Who would have thought that people would be arrested for bursting firecrackers on Diwali? But considering the unprecedented pollution levels in the capital, this became inevitable

In light of the rising pollution in the Capital, the Supreme Court ordered that Delhiites can only burn ‘green crackers’ and that too between 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali. It is said that such crackers do not emit toxic pollutants and can considerably reduce decibel levels, but manufacturers of firecrackers claimed that there is no such thing as ‘green crackers.’

Regardless, Delhiites continue bursting regular crackers and also went beyond the time limit in complete defiance of the order. Such violations led to a large number of arrests — about 326 – and 576 cases were registered under “disobedience of order” (Section 188 of IPC).

Police complaints were mostly filed by people living in the same locality as the violator or a passerby, according to the police.

Patriot spoke to a few people who complained against their neighbours for polluting the already polluted localities of Delhi. On Diwali, the Resident’s Welfare Association of Greater Kailash 2 (Masjid Moth) had issued circulars for those who may burn crackers between 8 pm to 10 pm. However, the guidelines clearly mentioned that cracking bursting will only be done in the central park of the locality.

Even though most of the people followed the guidelines and only burst fire crackers in the park, there was one family that burst crackers in front of their home. Saakshi (name changed), 23, a resident of the area, saw this from her balcony.

“They thought that it is auspicious to burst crackers outside their house. They were burning anaars (a type of cracker), which emanates more smoke as compared to other crackers,” says Saakshi.

Since she has asthma, she was too worried for her health to overlook the issue. So, she went there and asked them to burn the crackers in the central park. But an old man who was helping his granddaughter with the crackers, refused to do so, which led to a heated argument. “I told them that they will die and will kill me too by causing so much pollution,” added Saakshi.

Other people in the neighbourhood also tried to convince him not to burn crackers there. “Everyone told him that such a huge campaign is being run by the government but he did not listen,” Saakshi adds.

She lost her patience and called up the Greater Kailash police. The policemen asked him why he was being inconsiderate. They gave him a warning because of which he had to go inside. But he did not take it lightly and the next morning while Saakshi’s father was strolling in the neighbourhood park, the man confronted him and told him that his daughter had abused him and pelted stones at him.

“He also told my father that I ruined their Diwali,” says Saakshi.

This is not an isolated case. In Model Town, two people were arrested for bursting crackers till late in the night.

A man along with his 10-year-old daughter were bursting crackers. After seeing them violating the orders, Vaishnavi, who was at her friend’s place, decided to record this.

Later, this man who was bursting crackers rushed inside his home when he saw the police. The policemen went straight to his home, knocked, and showed him their video.

“I could hear the policemen saying that everyone will be going to jail,” says Vaishnavi. And this is exactly what happened – two men from that family were arrested and taken into custody. But even after this, Vaishnavi could hear the noise of firecrackers.

Subin, a resident of Kishangarh, also called up the police after he heard the bursting of firecrackers in the area.

Soon, the SHO of Vasant Kunj Police Station called him up and asked for specific details, which he could not give. Since the address could not be figured out, the police couldn’t do much.

“There were under 1,300 calls made to the PCR from across the city. Talking about Lutyens zone, six people were arrested. They were bailed soon but only after the chargesheet was filed. the magistrate will later collect a fine or give some punishment,” says Madhur Verma, DCP, New Delhi district.

Verma also added that during followup of eight complaints from Lutyens zone, eight of the people bursting crackers were found to be adults, whereas two were minors. “For minors we could not register a case as per provisions of Juvenile Justice Act. DD entries were filed and were forwarded to the Child Welfare Committee,” he added.

This was the condition on Diwali. PM2.5 levels hit 980, whereas anything above 300 is considered hazardous. With several people getting arrested, our collective conscience and civic sensibilities, which became as hazy as the smog, came under the scanner.

Bad citizens

  • Total persons arrested under 188 IPC: 326
  • Total cases registered under 188 IPC: 579
  • Air Quality Index at 10 pm: 302
  • PM 2.5 micro-particles at 1 am: 1,990
    Source: Delhi Police, Delhi Pollution Control Committee &
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