As many as 25,000 security personnel will be deployed on the route of the forthcoming Lord Jagannath rathyatra in Ahmedabad in which lakhs of people are likely to participate after a gap of two years without COVID-19 restrictions, officials said on Wednesday. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will perform the Mangla Aarti at the temple on July 1 around 4 am before the chariots of the deities roll out. In normal times, lakhs of people gather along the route of the rathyatra on the day of 'Ashadhi Beej' to catch a glimpse of deities and the procession, which includes decorated elephants and several tableaux.
Traditionally, the procession, led by chariots, starts around 7 am on 'Ashadhi Beej' from the 400-year-old temple in the Jamalpur area of the city and returns by 8 pm after passing through the Old City, including some communally sensitive areas. "With lakhs of people from across Gujarat are expected to attend the 145th Lord Jagannath Rathyatra here on July 1, at least 25,000 security personnel will be deployed on the entire route in the city to thwart any untoward incident," officials said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will perform the Mangla Aarti at the temple on July 1 at around 4 am, temple trustee Mahendra Jha said, adding that the 'mangla aarti' tradition has been followed for many years. Chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balbhadra and sister Subhadra will leave the temple premises around 7 am. As many as 25,000 personnel of police, reserve police and Central armed police will be deployed at strategic locations to guard the rath yatra, Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Harsh Sanghavi, said on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Sanghavi and Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil visited the Lord Jagannath temple in the Jamalpur area and participated in some rituals. "Apart from the regular constabulary, we will deploy 68 companies of the State Reserve Police (SRP) and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to maintain law and order during the rath yatra," Sanghavi told reporters.
He added that technology will be used extensively for surveillance. "We will keep a watch using body-worn cameras linked to the control room and drones.The police will also install face-detection cameras to identify and nab anti-social elements roaming in the procession's route,” the minister said.
At least 18 elephants, 100 trucks, and (members of) 30 akhadas (local gymnasiums) will join the procession, which will cover a distance of 15 km during the day. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balbhadra and sister Subhadra will be pulled by the Khalasi community as per the tradition. In 2020, a symbolic rath yatra was organised on the premises of the Lord Jagannath temple, after the Gujarat High Court denied permission for the usual public procession in light of the pandemic. Last year, only three chariots and two other vehicles had covered the entire route and returned without the usual festivity, as no other vehicle, singing troupes, akhadas, elephants or decorated trucks were permitted.
(With PTI Inputs)