Rath Yatra to be a heavily-guarded affair

About 180 platoons of police force and 1,000 officers will be deployed to maintain law and order situation during Rath Yatra.

Published: 28th June 2022 05:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2022 05:12 AM   |  A+A-

Three chariots under construction at the Grand Road in Puri. (Photo| Express)

Three chariots under construction at the Grand Road in Puri. (Photo| Express)

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Deprived of taking part in the Rath Yatra in Puri for two years due to Covid pandemic, there will be no stopping devotees from thronging the holy city this year. The number may touch one million, administrative officials expect. Official sources said there was a huge footfall on the occasion of Snana Purnima at Jagannath Temple earlier this month, and the congregation may multiply manifold during Rath Yatra on July 1.

With the number of devotees likely to be over 10 lakh, the Odisha Police has made robust security arrangements to ensure the car festival passes off peacefully. To discuss the standard operating procedure (SOP) for contingency management, officials of various agencies like the police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), Odisha Fire Service, local administration, municipality, Health and other line departments along with the volunteers held a meeting on Sunday.

About 180 platoons of police force and 1,000 officers will be deployed to maintain law and order situation during Rath Yatra. While there were 19 parking places during Rath Yatra in 2019, this year the parking places have been increased to 24.“Devotees are expected to arrive in Puri not only by buses and trains but also on two-wheelers and four-wheelers for which the number of parking places have been increased,” Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh said. The number of CCTV cameras have also been increased this year to have a close surveillance. Cameras have already been installed in about 45 locations and the police have planned to install 10 to 12 more, said sources.

Odisha Police has started mobilising security personnel and they will be deployed in full strength from June 30. DGP Sunil Kumar Bansal held a review meeting with the police officers in Puri on Monday and emphasised that the security personnel should provide ‘sewa and suraksha’ (service and security) to the visitors.“The devotees are largely peaceful and the police officers have been instructed to provide them sewa and suraksha. Central Range IG Narasingha Bhol and Puri SP Singh will look after the security arrangements,” DGP Bansal told The New Indian Express.

ADG Law and Order Radha Kishan Sharma will supervise the entire security arrangement and the police personnel are being sensitised to be courteous and polite towards the devotees.  “Security will be in place inside the temple and the cordon area of the chariots. Measures will also be taken for crowd control, traffic regulation along with coastal and railway security,” said Sharma. IG Operations Amitabh Thakur will be in-charge of traffic, IG (Headquarters) Sunil Dev Datta Singh will be in-charge of the cordon area including movement of the chariots and Southern Range IG Satya Brata Bhoi will look after crowd control. The three officers will be assisted by one DIG rank officer each.

With huge congregation expected in Puri for Rath Yatra amid a rise in Covid cases in the country, the State government has made face masks mandatory for people visiting the pilgrim city during the festival. It has also advised people to exercise caution while having food at the roadside eateries during the festival to prevent diarrhoea and other health hazards. “We are expecting a huge gathering in Rath Yatra this year for which masks have been made mandatory in Puri during the festival. People should follow Covid appropriate behaviour properly and avoid visiting the town in case of any symptoms,” Director of Health Service Dr Bijay Mohapatra said.

The testing and tracking of infected people will be increased in Puri ahead of the festival. Health camps will be set up at the railway station, bus stand and Grand Road where persons with Covid symptoms will be tested for their immediate isolation to contain transmission, he said.  To deal with emergency, the Health department has made provision of Covid care centres, ICU beds and oxygen in Puri. Health officials said though Odisha has been witnessing Covid cases in double digit and there has been no major surge in cases in Puri, there shouldn’t be any complacency as over one million people are expected to gather for the festival in the pilgrim town from across the country and abroad.  The State reported 69 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours against 68 on the the previous day. Khurda reported 34 new cases followed by 13 in Cuttack and eight in Sundargarh. While Puri reported two cases.


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