KOLKATA: Flouting COVID-19 safety protocols, thousands of people gathered at a ground in Kharagpur in Paschim Medinipur district during the annual Dussehra ceremony with the video of the event going viral on social media in past two days.
The Dussehra festival at Kharagpur attracts thousands of people every year and is attended by people's representatives, a senior district official said.
As the effigy of Ravana was being set ablaze on the sprawling ground on Monday evening, the day of Dussehra and Bijoya Dashami, the crowd swelled and physical distancing apparently went for a toss.
As the video of the huge crowd went viral on social media, Trinamool Congress MLA Pradip Sarkar, one of those behind the event and who was present on the occasion, admitted the crowd went beyond expectations.
Sarkar said the "Dussehra festival is integrated with the emotion and sentiments of people of Kharagpur, which has a cosmopolitan population comprising different communities."
"We had maintained all COVID-19 safety protocols but at the last minute as the effigy of Ravana was set on flame, some people rushed forward to have a better view. We will be more careful in future," he said.
Sarkar said the crowd was wearing masks and there was frequent announcements on mike asking people to maintain social distancing norms.
District Magistrate Roshni Komal, who was also present, said safety protocols were followed by the organisers and it went off smoothly.
Local BJP leaders, however, alleged many people were not wearing masks and no physical distancing norms were followed triggering apprehension of COVID-19 contamination as the state was witnessing a surge in such cases.