Durga Puja begins in Tripura, Assam amid tight security

Tightened security marked the beginning of Durga Puja in Tripura and Assam Thursday with colourful and artistic marquees and prayers amid the beating of drums.

IANS| Updated: Oct 10, 2013, 15:37 PM IST

Agartala/Silchar: Tightened security marked the beginning of Durga Puja in Tripura and Assam Thursday with colourful and artistic marquees and prayers amid the beating of drums.

The security forces have intensified their vigil to ensure safety during five-day festival, which began with the `Bodhan` - welcoming the idols of Godess Durga.

Amid heavy rains and the threat of a cyclonic storm, men, women and children thronged the puja pandals.

"Apart from the Border Security Force (BSF), additional security posts have also been set up along the border villages to maintain a close watch on the India-Bangladesh border to prevent any trans-border movement, and to ensure the festival is free of any untoward incident," Inspector General of Police Nepal Das told reporters in Agartala.

"Equipped with sophisticated arms and binoculars, (counter insurgency trained) Tripura State Rifles (TSR), and other security personnel were positioned in several tall watch-towers," Das told Thursday.

Besides separate anti-sabotage troops, bomb detection, disposal and sniffer dog squads, over 20,000 security personnel have been deployed across Tripura to maintain peace during the celebration.

The police official said that anti-insurgency operations in vulnerable areas of the state have also been stepped up by the district police, TSR, Assam Rifles and BSF through the deployment of additional forces.

"Intelligence networks have been activated. Over 105 additional police pickets have been set up all over Tripura, while mobile and foot patrolling would be conducted," said the IGP.

Many CCTVs have been installed at sensitive and possible crowded locations. People at big puja venue will have to pass through metal detectors.

The last terror attack in Tripura during Durga Puja occurred in October 2008, which killed one person and injured many after five blasts ripped through the markets and bus stands in Agartala.

A senior police officer in Silchar, a city in southern Assam dominated by Bengali Hindus, told reporters that security forces would be fanned out in four districts, including trouble-torn Dima Hasao, to prevent any untoward incident.

Movement of trains in southern Assam, Tripura and adjoining areas would also be monitored, police said.

At least 2,400 community Durga Pujas have been organised in Tripura.

Traditional themes continue to dominate pandal constructions and most of the puja organisers have highlighted Indian temples and historical events in their colourful decorations.

Traditional arts and handicrafts like by-products of coconuts, bamboo dust, glass and cane have also found place among the decorations.
The Buddhist temple in China`s Tibet, natural catastrophe in Uttarakhand, famous Nalanda University, Andhra Pradesh`s Tirupati Temple, Bihar`s Mahabodhi Temple, Birla Planetarium in Kolkata, Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Sun temple of Konarak and many imaginary temples are being depicted through the puja pandals.

To attract pandal hoppers, local clubs have organised many attractive presentations in front of their marquees.

For uninterrupted power supply, Tripura is importing electricity from neighbouring Mizoram and Meghalaya and far away states Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, West Bengal.
Mounting prices of all commodities and other economic downturn failed to dampen the spirit of the puja enthusiasts and organisers.

The northeast region`s most costly Durga Puja being organised at Udhalband Kalibari road in Silchar (350 km of Assam`s main city Guwahati) with a budget of Rs.35 lakh.

According to organisers of the puja, several Assam ministers are providing donations for the celebration.