Over 18,000 security men to guard Lord Jagannath rath yatra

A force of 18,000 security personnel will be deployed in Ahmedabad to guard the annual Lord Jagannath rath yatra, which will be taken out on Wednesday.

PTI| Updated: Jul 04, 2016, 22:30 PM IST

 Gandhinagar: A force of 18,000 security personnel will be deployed in Ahmedabad to guard the annual Lord Jagannath rath yatra, which will be taken out on Wednesday.

"For Ahmedabad, which will witness it's 139th rath yatra (on July 6), around 8,000 security personnel have been sanctioned by the DGP office. This is in addition to the city's own force of around 10,000 policemen," V M Pargi, in-charge of Additional Director General of Police (ADGP)- Law and Order, at a press conference here on Monday.

"Ahmedabad rath yatra passes through communally sensitive areas of the city and all these security personnel will be on bandobast duty. Apart from the main rath yatra, local police as well as security forces will be on their toes to guard 148 small processions held in different parts of Gujarat that day," he added.

The total length of the rath yatra procession stretches up to 1.5 km and covers around 15 km route before returning to Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area after almost ten hours of journey.

This additional force of 8,000 personnel include two Inspector General of Police (IGs), 22 Superintendents of Police (SPs), 60 Deputy SPs, 160 Inspectors, 300 Sub Inspectors (PSIs), 2,000 constables and head constables, 1,500 recruits undergoing training.

City police will also get help from 15 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), such as Border Security Force and Rapid Action Force. In addition, 45 companies of State Reserve Police would be deployed along the route. Each company consists of around 70 to 90 armed men.

"We will deploy 15 companies of CAPF and 45 companies of SRP on that day. One unit of Chetak Commando, having 32 armed commandos, will also be deployed," said Pargi.

The procession usually has 18 elephants, 100 trucks, and 30 akhadas (local gymnasiums), which will cover a distance of 15 km during the day. The raths of Lord Jagganath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra will be pulled by Khalashi community as per the age old tradition.

Taking into consideration Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion about increasing cooperation with police force of other states, Gujarat police have called in two SRP companies from Nagaland and Assam.

"Our PM made this suggestion during last year's DGP conference held at Kutch. Responding positively to our request, the union Home Ministry has already sent two SRP companies from Nagaland and Assam. One of the companies from Nagaland consists women personnel," Pargi said. 

The overall security setup by city police also consists of 50 mounted police personnel, five teams of Bomb Disposal Squad, a dog squad, five water cannons, ten cranes, 35 jeeps, 20 police buses, five CCTV command and control vehicles and five open trucks, among others.

The jawans are also given night vision binoculars, 1,500 tear-smoke grenades, 500-dye-marker grenades, 500 stun cells, 150 teargas guns and 47 shock batons to control people in case of riots or any other unwarranted situation.

"We will also deploy six Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), called as Netra, which will provide us birds eye view of surrounding area. CCTV cameras have been installed on the entire route. We have also installed night-vision cameras at sensitive areas. Officers can watch movements from our control rooms at Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar," Pargi said.

Since Eid also falls on the same day, police are extra alert to see that both the festivals pass peacefully.

"Eid also falls on the same day. Therefore, we are taking extra precaution. Our focus will be to ensure that everything goes well on that day," Pargi said.

Even as there was a terror attack in Bangladesh recently, the senior IPS officer said there has been no specific input about such an attack in Gujarat.

"Though there is no specific input about such attack here during rath yatra, we are not leaving any stone unturned to make sure that no untoward incident takes places," Pargi said.