Tight security arrangements at Sabarimala

via PNS | Pathanamthitta published on November 19, 2009

In view of the prevailing security situation nationwide, the police have tightened the arrangements at the holy hills of Sabarimala, where the 63-day annual pilgrimage season started on Monday, during which close to four crore pilgrims are expected to visit the hill shrine. Unlike in the previous seasons, tight security is being arranged at the shrine and along the trek to it has been arranged in the very start of the season this time.

Apart from the hundreds of Kerala Police personnel on duty, one company each of the Rapid Action Force and the National Disaster Response Force are also being deployed for security at the Sannidhanam, the abode of Lord Ayyappa at the hilltop, and Pamba, the base camp and the five-km trek in between.

As many as 1,300 personnel of the Kerala Police have been deployed in Sabarimala for security in the first phase of the season. The personnel from the Rapid Action Force and the National Disaster Response Force arrived at Sabarimala on Tuesday. Armed security personnel would guard the important places at Pamba and Sannidhanam.

Devotees will be allowed to the Sree Ganapathy temple at Pamba, Sannidhanam and the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ayyappa only after elaborate security checks, which include the metal detector scan. The Irumudikettus the devotees carry also are being examined on a random basis and on specific occasions.

ADGP Chandrasekharan in charge of the security arrangements said pilgrims would have to enter the temple premises after undergoing a security scan. They would have to pass through door-framed metal detectors installed at the Valiya Nadappanthal and at both the entry points on the northern side of the temple complex.

Scanners have been installed at various points including Pamba where the trek begins. As many as 50 hidden cameras have been installed at Pamba, strategic spots on the trek to the Lord Ayyappa temple and at Sannidhanam. The arrangements would be coordinated and controlled from the control room set up at Sannidhanam.

Arrangements for inspection of vehicles have been made at Chalakkayam, the main parking lot for devotees’ vehicles. The plan is to regularly increase the number of personnel on duty to 3,000 by the time of the Makaravilakku festival on January 14.

At the same time, a mock security drill was conducted at the Sannidhanam on the afternoon of Monday, the very first day of the season to examine the capability and preparedness of the State police to face any eventuality at the pilgrim centre. Chandrashekharan said devotees too should watch for strangers approaching their pilgrim shelters or retiring camps in a suspicious manner.

The sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Ayyappa temple had opened for the 63-day annual Mandalam and Makara Viulallku pilgrimage on Sunday evening but Poojas had begun only on Monday morning. Temple authorities are expecting around four crore Ayyappa devotees to visit Sabarimala in the season as more than three crore pilgrims had had Darshan at the hill shrine in the last season.

The high day of the first part of the pilgrimage season, Mandalam, will be on December 26, the 41st day, and after the special Poojas that day the sanctum sanctorum would be closed. It would reopen for the Makara Vilakku Poojas on December 30. Makara Vilakku, to be held on the day when the divine star, Makara Jyoti, would be sighted, this year would fall on January 14. The temple will close for the year – except for the monthly Poojas and the special Vishu festival in April – on January 20.

The temple authorities and various departments of the Government have assured that there would be no problems in the distribution of Aravana and Appam, the chief Prasadams of Lord Ayyappa. They had already ensured that two million cans of Aravana and a proportionate number of Appam packets had been there at the inventory. Distribution of coupons for the Prasadams started through the 250-odd branches the Dhanalakshmi Bank Ltd in the country.

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