Gujarat deploys central forces for Wednesday’s rath yatra


Gandhinagar : Lord Jagannath’s annual “rath yatra” in Ahmedabad Wednesday, the biggest in the country after the one in Puri, will have extraordinary security as state and central forces have been deployed to guard three chariots journeying across Ahmedabad.

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The Gujarat government has deployed 75 companies of central forces and called for a company of the State Reserve Police (SRP) from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh for security arrangements for 117 small and big yatra in Ahmedabad and four other cities, a senior police official said Tuesday.

A total of 133 companies of state and central forces have been called for ensuring security of the rath yatra in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Surat and Anand, state Director General of Police S.S. Khandwawala told reporters here.

The police are already rounding up anti-social elements in the cities where the rath yatras are annually held so as to ensure peaceful conduct of the popular event, he said.

The maximum number of rath yatra, both small and big, totalling 109 will be held in Ahmedabad and Bhavanagar, which would pass through various parts of the two cities, he added.

The first rath yatra in Ahmedabad was held in 1867 and it became an annual feature from 1882. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra, followed by trucks and tableaux, take the traditional route.

The main rath yatra, with tens of thousands of devotees, starts from the Jagannath temple in Ahmedabad in the morning and returns there in the evening.

The procession also passes through some neighbourhoods that the police have identified as communally sensitive since these spots have often witnessed communal clashes during the yatra in recent decades.