4,000 security personnel have been deployed

The State Police have planned elaborate security arrangements to ensure the safety of Sabarimala pilgrims during the forthcoming Makaravilakku festival, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) A. Hemachandran has said.

The ADGP was talking to reporters after holding an official review meeting at Sabarimala Sanidhanam on Thursday. Mr Hemachandran said the police had made various security arrangements on the basis of the recommendations of the Justice Hariharan Nair Commission that inquired into the stampede mishap at Pullumedu. The accident had claimed 102 lives in 2010.

He said special security arrangements would be made at the Parunthumpara, Panchalimedu, Attathode, and Aangamoozhi, besides Pullumedu, in view of the large congregation of Ayyappa devotees who would assemble to watch the Makarajyoti on the Makaravilakku day on January 14.

The ADGP said as many as 4,000 security personnel, including the Central forces and the police force from the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, were deployed at Sabarimala, Pampa, and Nilackal in view of the heavy rush for the Makaravilakku festival.

More police force would be deployed, if needed, he said. A total of 1,250 police personnel headed by K. Padmakumar, Inspector General of Police, would be deployed at Pullumedu. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited would extend cellular phone coverage by setting up a mobile Base Transceiver Station (BTS) at Pullumedu by Saturday.

He said the police would take special care in ensuring the safety of pilgrims who reached Sabarimala from different parts of the country and even from abroad.

The police personnel on duty were also given strict instruction not to harass or cause inconvenience to the pilgrims. Mr Hemachandran said the police should wear their name plate while on duty and they should not wield lathi for crowd management.

The KSRTC buses should be given priority while releasing vehicles after blocking them at specified points for better traffic management on the main trunk road leading to Sabarimala, the ADGP said.

He said the 2,250-strong new batch of police headed by Debesh Kumar Behra was deployed at the Sannidhanam, besides the 1,500-strong police force, including 20 women civil police officers, at Pampa from Wednesday. N. Vijayakumar would be Assistant Police Special Officer at Sabarimala, he said. The ADGP said special squad would be set up to check infiltration into the barricades on the trekking path as well as the queue at the Valiyanadappanthal and Lower Tirumuttom.

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