The Kerala Government is set to extend more security cover to Sabarimala even after the annual pilgrimage season, when the Lord Ayyappa Temple remains closed, as well as during the five-day rituals in every Malayalam month, according to Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Mr Balakrishnan was on a visit to Sabarimala on Thursday to review the security arrangements at the pilgrim centre in the backdrop of the anniversary of Babri Mosque demolition in Uttar Pradesh 17 years ago. The Minister said government would explore the possibility of deploying Kerala Armed Police personnel at Sabarimala during the off-season period. The Director General of Police, Jacob Punnose, would submit a detailed report in this regard to the government soon so that the new system could be in force as soon as the temple closes after the ongoing Mandalam-Makarailakku pilgrim season in mid-January itself, he added.
Mr Balakrishnan said that as many as 1400 police personnel have been presently deployed at Sabarimala and their number would be increased gradually with the increase in the flow of pilgrims to the holy hillock. He said as many as 4500 cops would be deployed for crowd management at Sabarimala during the Makaravilakku festival in January.
The Minister said a total of 18 close circuit televisions (CCTV) have already been installed at different points at Sabarimala Sannidhanam as part of security arrangements at the holy hillock. He said more CCTVs would be installed at various other strategic points, including the Appam-Aravana plant, soon.
Mr Balakrishnan said one company each of National Disaster Response Force and Rapid Action Force attached to CRPF have already been deployed at Sabarimala and more Central forces could be deployed as and when necessary.
The Home Minister said steps would be taken to establish an intelligence sharing mechanism on Sabarimala at the State Police Headquarters in Thiruvanathapuram soon. He said the proposed system was aimed at properly co-ordinating the informations and inputs received from various Central as well as State intelligence agencies that include Intelligence Bureau, RAW, CBI, etc.
Daily review meeting planned
The Minister said co-ordination and liaison between various departments at Sabarimala should be ensured in the larger interests of fine tuning the functioning of the official machinery which was essential for the smooth conduct of the annual pilgrim season.
Heads of various departments on duty at Sabarimala would convene a review meeting on a daily basis, he added. After visiting the police barracks and police mess, the Minister said the basic facility provided for the police force at Sabarimala was satisfactory and the TDB as well as Police department would jointly take steps to provide more cooking vessels to the police mess.
Seeks ABASS co-operation
Mr Balakrishnan also stressed the need for the service of more volunteers at Sabarimala. He said the government and TDB would seek co-operation of Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom in this regard. The Home Minister, accompanied by Devaswom Minister, Ramachandran Kadannappally, Addittional Chief Secretary, K.Jayakumar who is also the TDB Chief Commissioner and Director General of Police, Jacob Punnose, convened two separate meetings of police officials and heads of various Government departments and TDB at the Devaswom Administrative Complex at the Sannidhanam on Thursday.
Additional DGP, P.Chandrashekharan, Inspector General of Police, A.Hemachandran, District Superintendent of Police, K.K.Chellappan and Devaswom Executive Officer, V.S.Jayakumar, were among those who attended the meeting.