The Jamboo Savari is said to have been watched by a record six lakh people, and providing security cover for such a large congregation on a single day is a tremendous task.
A lot of planning and efforts has gone into realising safe Dasara celebrations.
Police Commissioner M.A. Saleem, who worked towards providing an elaborate security arrangement, said that handling mega events and crowds in Bangalore came in handy here.
In a tête-à-tête with The Hindu here on Tuesday, he shared some strategies that resulted in the smooth conduct of the celebrations. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Q. Did you expect such a large congregation for the Jamboo Savari?
A. We had expected even larger crowds. Our estimate was around 9.5 lakh people and hence, we made security arrangements accordingly. Finally, the turnout was around six lakh, which itself is a record of sorts in the recent years.
How did you plan security for a mega event like Dasara?
We did a lot of planning for over a month. In fact, deployment of police personnel was less this year when compared to last year. As many as 4,600 police personnel were on the job on Monday. Being new to the city was a big advantage to think and plan differently. My tenure in Bangalore helped me handle the mega event.
Can you elaborate on the arrangements made?
We built up solid momentum (enforcement of traffic rules and detections) ahead of the festivities. There was complete preparedness from our side. The arrangements were technology-intensive. Strict surveillance on the procession route using over 50 CCTVs; deployment of unmanned aerial vehicle for monitoring suspicious elements; deployment of officers from neighbouring districts and States to keep a tab on criminals; 14 teams of Anti-Sabotage Squads, Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad and Deep Search Metal Detectors at the palace were some of them.
Was there any specific terror threat to Dasara in view of the heavy visitor footfalls?
Not really. But, necessary security measures were in place in view of the scale of festivities and tourist arrivals. Our men were alert closely monitoring video footages retrieved from over 100 cameras, including the palace and other key tourist spots.
Do you have any specific information to share post-Dasara?
I must say that there was not a single case of pickpocket and chain-snatching. It was by and large a “crime-free” Dasara, barring the theft of a mobile phone. Around 17 cases of pickpocket and suitcase lifting had been reported during the festivities last year.
Is there a scope for improvement?
Absolutely. I am not very satisfied with the crowd management inside the palace. There were 15,500 seats, but the turnout was around 20,000. The capacity exceeded. We will correct the shortcomings next year and make arrangements for a better Dasara. Thankfully, there was no stampede since the palace area is big and the crowds cooperated with the police.