The Maharashtra government is taking no chances with security in view of the Ganpati idol immersion on Wednesday. It has ordered a ban on plying of two-wheelers during the processions.

Home Minister R.R. Patil said that following the firing incident near the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, the State was banning bikes on the heavily congested routes as a precaution. In addition, parking of two-wheelers would also not be allowed on those roads. Mr. Patil urged the citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.

“Tomorrow [Wednesday] is Anant Chaturdashi, the day Ganesha idols are immersed in thousands. Mumbai city and the rest of the Maharashtra are in a state of alert,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who held a series of meetings with representatives of the media, political parties and religious heads in a bid to ensure that there was an atmosphere of peace for Wednesday and also for September 24, when the verdict on the Babri Masjid title suit would be announced in Lucknow.

Preventive arrests

Mr. Chavan said all political parties and religious heads from various communities had assured him that there would be peace and communal harmony regardless of the verdict. Police had made preventive arrests of criminal elements.

The State had deployed its reserve police force and about 2,00,000 policemen would be spread out all over Maharashtra, said D. Sivanandhan, Director-General of police. There are 10 companies of the Rapid Action Force and the Central Reserve Police Force and 13 battalions of paramilitary forces. “I am confident that nothing untoward will happen,” Mr. Sivanandhan said.