Official vandalism spoils the spirit of Durga Puja in Noida
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Official vandalism spoils the spirit of Durga Puja in Noida

Idol makers lost their business, devotees are depeived of the effigies of their favourite deity.

Official vandalism spoils the spirit of Durga Puja in Noida Video by Samrat Roy

Durga Puja is here. While devotees all over India and abroad are bracing to celebrate the festival with all the preparations in place, residents of Noida still have no clue where to go for the effigies of their favourite deity. The shed, under which the effigy makers cum vendors were found selling and giving final touches to their products till the other day, has disappeared from its site. 

The idol makers have used a footpath of Sector 20 as a makeshift outlet to sell their effigies under tarpaulin shed for 19 years. But on September 21, a team of officials of the Noida Authority raided the site and vandalised the makeshift outlet tearing apart the overhead tarpaulin shed and demolishing their stalls on the plea that they had illegally encroached upon the space that belongs to the authority. 

According to the idol makers, the officials raided the spot twice. 

They said, “They first came there in the morning at around 9.30-10 am and demolished our shed. They asked us to remove all the idols and paraphernalia they use in making the idols from the spot and clear the space,” said Anand Pal, one of the idol makers. 

The hapless craftsmen, who make and sell effigies for a living as a seasonal business, had no option but to comply with the order of the officials. They grudgingly shifted all their stuff, including unfinished and vandalised idols, to their godowns situated in Sector 22 near Somerville school and in Sector 52 leaving the ones which were 90 percent finished lying there so that they could be sold out.

Photo by: Samrat Roy

(Above) - Durga idol decked up for puja. Unfortunately most the finished products could not reach the devotees 

“However,” said the effigy maker, “The Noida Authority team raided the site again at 2-3 pm and destroyed all the idols kept on the footpath for sale with vengeance. Since we were in our godown at that time of the raid we could not resist this vandalism.”

On contacting the Noida Authority, an officer responded on condition of anonymity, saying the space was cleared during a routine anti-encroachment drive. 

He said all those who have applied for allotment of the space in vending zones should wait for the draw of lots through which they would be allotted a space. “It is due and would be carried out shortly,” he assured.

But the poor idol makers can't wait till the draw of lots takes place their business being seasonal in nature. And since their godowns are not known to many, they are unable to reach out to their customers and hence the idols they have made, toiling day in and day out, are lying unsold. This has incurred each of the artists a loss of Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1,00,000.

Photo by: Samrat Roy

Though the idol makers are selling their wares for the last 19 years, this is the first time that something like this has happened to them. Hurt and frustrated they are undecided whether to put up their stalls next year.