Odisha imposes ‘curfew-like’ shutdown in Puri for Ratha Jatra

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Monday imposed a “curfew-like” shutdown in Puri district ahead of the historic Lord Jagannath Ratha Jatra and appealed to citizens to refrain from stepping out of their homes when the chariots roll out on the Grand Road on June 23 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “curfew-like” shutdown will be in force across the district from 9 pm of Monday till 2 pm on Wednesday, said Director General of Police (DGP) Abhay and appealed to the people to abide by the Supreme Court’s directives while celebrating the historic Ratha Jatra amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

The DGP also said that more than 50 platoons (one platoon has 30 personnel) of police force are being deployed for the security management of the nine-day festival.

“We have already started deployment of force since Sunday evening expecting to hold the Ratha Jatra,” Abhay said. As holding of the Ratha Jatra is permitted only in Puri this time, force deployment will be a difficult task and the whole focus of the police will be on the pilgrim town, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Soumendra Priyadarshi said. While the residents of Puri should refrain from moving out to watch the Lord’s journey, people from other parts of the state have been urged not to proceed to the seaside pilgrim town, the DGP said.

“All the devotees, both in Puri and outside, can watch the proceedings on television,” he said. Meanwhile, all the entry points to Puri have been sealed and no vehicle other than those for the purpose of the Rath Yatra preparation is allowed into the temple town, a senior official said.

Apart from Chief Secretary A K Tripathy and DGP Abhay, all senior officials of the state government of different line departments have rushed to the pilgrim town for preparation for the festival, which is barely a few hours away.

The chief secretary said, “All the related departments are fully prepared. The Ratha Jatra will be devotee and visitor less on Badadanda. All directions of the Supreme Court will be fully followed.” The apex court, while allowing the festival in Puri, said that it cannot micro-manage the rituals and left it to the wisdom of the state, the Centre and the temple management to deal with that issue.

The Centre has informed the court that the Rath Yatra can be conducted without compromising on the health of the citizens.

The Supreme Court’s nod for the annual festival was granted on the basis of the state governments assurance that the Ratha Jatra will be conducted by a limited number of servitors without any public participation in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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