Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 27:
The police bandobast for this year’s Rath Yatra in Puri, the pilgrim town of Odisha, is going to be the biggest and the most elaborate ever.
A record 104 platoons of police force, 1,000 police officers, 2,000 home guards, two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), bomb disposal squads, quick reaction teams (QRTs) and sniffer dog squads will be deployed during the Gundicha Yatra, Bahuda Yatra and Sunabesha, said RP Koche, IG (Central) at a press meet here on Thursday.
Koche said the elaborate arrangement had been made keeping in mind the expected gathering of 12 to 15 lakh devotees during the festival this year.
Odisha police is in the process of giving final touches to preparations for the smooth conduct of the world famous annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri.
The IGP said arrangements have been made to erect iron barricades around the chariots to prevent devotees from climbing the chariots.
Strict restrictions have been put on the movement of traffic both inside and outside Puri town in view of the congregation of lakhs of vehicles entering Puri during the Rath Yatra, he said.
While IG Sanjeev Panda has been entrusted with the job of traffic control and management, a DIG rank officer, two SP rank officers and hundreds of policemen have been placed under him for the smooth conduct of the job.
Areas outside Puri town have been divided into 16 sectors while areas inside Puri town have been divided into nine sectors for efficient control and management of traffic, the IG said.
Similarly, while there will be one-way traffic on the Puri-Bhubaneswar highway, restrictions on movement of vehicular traffic have been also enforced on Puri-Satpada, Puri-Konark and New Jagannath Sadak.
Security personnel will also be keeping a close watch on the sea and air for possible terrorist infiltration, the police officer said.
Sources said the large deployment of police this year is due to the perceived terrorist threat during the Rath Yatra and apprehensions of trouble following the Odisha High Court’s orders restraining devotees from climbing the chariots and touching of deities.