The 139th rath yatra of Lord Jagannath on Wednesday commenced on it's 15 km journey in the walled city in Ahmedabad amid tight security arrangements even as lakhs of devotees queued up to have a glimpse of the deity.
The chariots of the Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, commenced their journey from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur after Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel performed 'Pahind Vidhi'-- a symbolic ritual of cleaning way for the 'raths' (chariots).
Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah visited the temple at around 4 am and took part in the 'Mangla Aarti'. The procession of rath yatra comprise 18 decorated
elephants, 101 trucks, around 30 religious congregations and around 20 singing troupes. It will move through some communally sensitive areas like Jamalpur, Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur.
The total length of rath yatra procession stretches up to 1.5 km. It will return to the temple after almost 11 hours of journey.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the police department to avoid any unwarranted situation. Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel was present at the temple to supervise the arrangements.
"Though we have not received any specific terror input, such large events are always on the target of anti-social elements. Thus, we have deployed large number of police and para-military personnel to ensure safety and security of citizens," Patel said.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police, city crime branch, J K Bhatt 18,000 security personnel, including of police, state reserve police and central para-military forces, have been deployed at various locations along the route.
The entire route is being monitored by police through a network of CCTV cameras, connected with two control rooms, one in the city and another in Gandhinagar.
"As many as 700 CCTV cameras, including night vision cameras, have been installed at various locations along route by the police to keep a close watch on each and every movement. We are also using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for surveillance," Bhatt said.
Personnel manning the yatra include 9 IG and DIG level officers, 33 Superintendents of Police (SPs), 81 Deputy SPs, 250 Police Inspectors, 900 sub inspectors, 8,000 constables, 5,600 Homeguards and 1,500 recruits undergoing training.