The 138th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, which is due to be taken out on July 18, will be guarded by a massive force of 20,000 armed personnel. Speaking on the mammoth security arrangements being made for the Rath Yatra, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Branch), Vikas Sahay, on Wednesday said, 20,000 personnel of police and paramilitary forces will be deployed during the procession.
These personnel include 8 IG and DIG level officers, 28 SPs, 75 DySPs, 204 inspectors, 450 sub-inspectors, 10,000 constables, 5000 Home guards, and 50 companies of State Reserve Police and other paramilitary forces, such as Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF), Border Security Force and Rapid Action Force. Each company comprise around 80 to 90 personnel.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, will perform the symbolic ritual of cleaning the roads when the Rath begins its journey from the temple, called ‘pahind’. The grand procession, usually consisting of 18 elephants, 100 trucks and 30 akhadas, will cover a distance of 18 km across Ahmedabad. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, will be pulled by the Khalashi community, as per the ancient tradition.
To keep the thronging thousands under surveillance, the police has installed 50 CCTV cameras on strategic points across the route to be taken by the procession. The live video footage of these cameras will be screened at the main control room.
In a bid to step up security for the Rath Yatra, the administration has also planned that three unmanned aerial vehicles, called ‘Netra’, which will give a bird’s eye view of the procession. Guarding sensitive areas in the route, these will have a camera mounted on top and can fly upto 100 meters, Sahay explained.
Since Eid is likely to fall on the same day, steps will also be taken to ensure communal harmony and peace. “As per the calendar, Eid also falls on the same day, “As per the calendar, Eid also falls on the same day. Thus, we are taking extra precaution. We are holding various mohalla committee meetings to ensure peace. Rehearsal of Rath Yatra will be conducted on July 16,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Control), D H Parmar said.