Israeli balloons to keep watch on 141st Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad

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Ahmedabad, July 13 (IANS) The traditional 141st Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath will be taken out in Ahmedabad in all festive colour and religious fervor on Saturday amid massive security cover with the first time use of Israeli helium balloons fitted with high resolution cameras.

A posse of more than 20,000 police personnel has been deployed along the 18 km route of the yatra through Ahmedabad’s walled city areas and outskirts.

Earlier, the Ahmedabad police used camera-mounted unmanned drones during the Yatra but this time Israeli balloons will be pressed into service.

“Helium balloons are far better than drones and helps monitor ground level situation from a height of 300 metres and covers an area up to five kilometer radius,” J.K. Bhatt, Joint Commissioner, Crime Branch, told reporters here.

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Besides the high definition cameras, the authorities would also be monitoring the route of the Yatra through live feeds from 150 CCTV cameras, he said.

The security of the thousands of devotees will be taken care 20,200 policemen, Home Guards, state reserve police jawans, armed men from the paramilitary forces and Rapid Action Force, who all will keep an eye on this day-long yatra that begins early in the morning from the historic 400-year-old Jagannath Temple in the Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur area. From there, it will snake through various parts of the walled city (Old City), including communally sensitive areas, to reach Saraspur.

Taking an altogether different route, which also has communally sensitive areas, the Yatra will return late in the evening.

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Eighteen decorated elephants, 101 trucks with tableaux, 30 religious congregations and 18 singing troupes will be partake in the yatra which will have three chariots of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, brother Balarama and sister Shubhadhra.

For the yatra, the entire security on the ground would be commanded by city Police Commissioner A.K. Singh. In addition, paramilitary forces and bomb detection and disposal squads would also be deployed.

Besides Ahmedabad, 164 such similar yatras are carried out across various cities and towns of the state simultaneously, commemorating the event.

–IANS

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