Meticulous planning, aid of surveillance cameras and cooperation from the visiting public enabled the police to handle the crowd effectively that the celestial wedding of Goddess Sri Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar went off peacefully.
Even as the police geared up with their force for the Chithirai festival, the twin-bomb blasts at Chennai central railway station on May Day caused ripples across the State for the men in khaki.
With the world famous Sri Meenakshi Temple always on the “general alert” mode, the police had sleepless nights since then. “As the celestial wedding is the highlight of the celebrations and considered all-important by the devotees, we wanted to ensure there were no untoward incidents,” police officers said.
Two days ago, Inspector General and Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur had warned of stern action against miscreants who attempted to create panic.
Apart from deploying close to 4,000 personnel on bandobust, the police had also set up a special control room to monitor the crowd movement this time.
The 39 surveillance cameras inside and outside the temple came in handy. Besides monitoring the vantage locations, the cameras were optimally used for both alerting policemen at different spots to be vigilant and to identify mischief mongers swiftly.
As and when the devotees started arriving, we allowed them inside after frisking. By 9 a.m., a majority of them had taken their seats and there was no unnecessary crowding or long queue. Similarly, this time, the police personnel were divided into micro-teams.
Every Inspector of Police was given 20 to 25 personnel and they had to ensure 600 to 700 devotees in an enclosure were seated comfortably along the North and West Adi Streets, where darshan was free to the public.
Though the police repeatedly advised people to leave their footwear in five make-shift spots, there was confusion after the celestial wedding as many devotees were unable to get into the exit towers of their choice.
There was no complaint to the special mobile numbers exclusively dedicated to the devotees visiting the temple. However, there were calls to 100 (police control room) about missing valuables. The traffic police had tough time in regulating motorists.
Many pockets in Avani Moola Streets and Masi Streets were choked till 11 a.m. due to haphazard parking.
The large posse of personnel and close monitoring by many senior officers ensured that there was nothing untoward in this year’s celestial wedding.