Kerala

Pampa, Sannidhanam special security zones

Security build-up includes military helicopters, commandos

The State police have declared Pampa and Sannidhanam as special security zones to stymie any attempt to turn the religiously sensitive localities into hotspots for political protests when the Sabarimala temple opens for monthly puja on October 17.

The ancient forest shrine is opening its doors for thousands of devotees for the first time since the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the right of women of all ages to worship at the temple in September.

The police said they anticipated trouble from forces opposing the government’s decision not to appeal the verdict. Hence, it has invoked Section 83 of the Kerala Police Act to prevent any flare-ups in the pilgrim locality.

Law enforcers said they had sensed the hidden hand of radical elements behind the seemingly disorganised attacks against Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials and the attempt on Tuesday to detain women, including journalists, at Nilackal.

Curbs on vehicles

As part of the stringent security arrangements, the police would allow no vehicle beyond Nilackal. The 150-acre parking lot at the base camp could accommodate nearly 15,00 cars at a time. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation would continuously ferry pilgrims from Nilackal to Pampa and back.

Officers in riot gear were on the standby to deploy rapidly in the event of any attempt to block pilgrims. The police would use women commandos and officers at Pampa and Nilackal.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy would fly their M-17 V-5 gunships on low-level aerial reconnaissance and surveillance sorties over Sabarimala from Wednesday. The helicopters would have commandos on board, and military air traffic controllers at the Centralised Police Control Room at Nilackal would coordinate the air operations.

Police to deploy drones

The police would operate at least four drones, which would relay surveillance video in real time to control room officials.

The law enforcement has integrated its surveillance camera system with a database of images of suspects, including criminals, extremists and troublemakers. An artificial intelligence (AI) powered facial recognition technology will help control room officers spot wanted persons and track their movements in the area. State Police Chief Loknath Behera is supervising the security.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 4:29:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sabarimala-declared-special-security-zone/article25239565.ece

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