Tight security arrangement in place for Rath Yatra in Puri

To ensure smooth conduct of the annual Rath Yatra in Puri scheduled for July 12, the Odisha government has deployed 65 platoons of force along with senior officers to look after the security arrangements for the festival, the police said on Saturday.

“All preparations for the festival have been made. Arrangement from police administration has also been done. A detailed plan to ensure foolproof security has been chalked out,” Additional Director General (law and order), R.K. Sharma, said on Saturday.

The entire city has been divided into 12 zones. Along with the 65 platoons, 10 senior officers of additional SP rank have been deployed for the festival, Sharma said after reviewing the security arrangements in Puri.

The police force will not only provide security, but also ensure proper enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks, sources said.

A source said that all entry points (8 check points) of the district will be sealed to restrict the movement of people from other parts of the state and elsewhere to Puri during the Rath Yatra festival.

Like last year, the revered festival of Lord Jagannath in the pilgrim town of Puri will be held without the participation of devotees in view of the Covid-19 situation.

RT-PCR tests of the servitors are being carried out. The sevayats (servitors) testing negative for Covid-19 and who have been fully vaccinated would be allowed to participate in the pulling of the chariots.

Meanwhile, all hotels, dharmashalas and guest houses on the Grand Road have been asked not allow any tourist or devotee. They have been directed to vacate all boarders and guests by Saturday evening.

The district administration has also relaxed the shutdown on Saturday. However, Section 144 of CrPC will be clamped from 8 pm on Sunday and no shop or essential activity will be allowed on Grand Road. Only those with duty passes for Rath Yatra will be allowed, officials said.