GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat police has detained more than 20,000 people in the last one month to ensure trouble-free Rath Yatra (chariot procession) of Lord Jagannath on July 18 in various towns and cities including Ahmedabad.
Talking about the security arrangements, Director General of Police P C Thakur today said the police department was extra alert this time as Eid also falls on the same day.
As many as 20,679 suspected anti-social persons were put in preventive detention under the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibition act, and Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA).
"We have detained 20,679 people from Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar districts. Out of this 110 were held under PASA," said Thakur.
Apart from the main Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad, which is the biggest one, 146 chariot processions of Lord Jagannath and other deities are organised in Gujarat, including major cities like Bhavnagar, Surat, Vadodara, Anand and Rajkot.
"This year's Rath Yatra needs extra attention as Eid also falls on the same day. This coincidence has happened after 30 years. To avoid any unpleasant turn of events, especially in communally sensitive areas, police have taken many new initiatives," said Thakur.
"For the first time we have decided to deploy an inspector general- or deputy inspector general-level officer at 15 locations which are considered communally sensitive, such as Viragam, Modasa, Bhavnagar, Bharuch and Petlad town," said Thakur.
While police would be deployed in force on the Rath Yatra route through sensitive areas in Ahmedabad, police officials have also held meetings with maulvis of mosques on the route.
"Namaz time will clash with Rath Yatra in the morning in Gaekwad Haveli area of city. There are a total of 68 mosques on the route, of which eight are in that area. So we held meetings with maulvis of those mosques and requested them to co-operate," said Thakur.
Though he denied having received any input by the Central Intelligence Bureau about possible disruption or terror attack during the Rath Yatra, Thakur claimed that situation in Middle East and North Africa where the terror outfit ISIS is very active must be kept in mind.
"You can see the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We have made such elaborate security arrangements keeping that in mind too. Of course there is no possibility of terror attacks (by ISIS) here but we all have to be extra alert," said Thakur.
Apart from regular police force, 143 companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) and para- military forces such as Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), BSF and Rapid Action Force (RAF) would be deployed. Each company will have around 80 to 90 personnel.