Increase in number of pilgrims at Sabarimala

Jam packed: Heavy rush at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on Tuesday. —

Jam packed: Heavy rush at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on Tuesday. —   | Photo Credit: Photo: Leju Kamal

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

SABARIMALA: With hardly three days left for Mandalapuja at the Ayyappa temple, heavy rush of pilgrims continued on Tuesday.

The police have made elaborate arrangements for crowd control and security following the rapid increase in number of pilgrims towards the end the 41-day annual Mandalam festival.

M.P. Dinesh, Police Special Officer at the Sannidhanam, told The Hindu that additional police divisions had been opened at sensitive points at the Sannidhanam and on the trekking path. The divisions, headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, were at Paandithavalom, Sabaripeedhom, Saramkuthy and Marakkoottom.

Pilgrims coming through the Uppupara-Pulmedu route, via Kumily, were being screened at Paandithavalom. Door-frame metal detectors and explosive detectors had been set up there. A Rapid Action Force company and 120 National Disaster Response Force personnel have been camping at Sabarimala since November 16.

The State police have deployed commandos and the State Rapid Action Force, besides an explosive and bomb detection squad each at the Sannidhanam and Pampa.

Baggage of pilgrims is being X-ray scanned at Pampa and the Sannidhanam.

Mr. Dinesh said 1,800 police personnel would manage the crowd at the Sannidhanam.

The pilgrim flow from Pampa had been regulated to avoid overcrowding, especially during the rush days. Elaborate arrangements have been made for parking. Separate parking lots have been set up for buses coming from various south Indian States.

The police have made arrangements for monitoring vehicles plying on the trunk road to Sabarimala and for a periodic check on those parked at Pampa, Nilackal and on the wayside. The temple will close on Friday evening after Mandalapuja and reopen on December 30 afternoon for the Makaravilakku festival.

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