Bhubaneswar: Security has been beefed up and prohibitory orders will be imposed in parts of Puri town from Thursday night to prevent large congregation of devotees on the occasion of Lord Jagannath’s ‘Snana Purnima’ festival on Friday in the time of COVID-19, officials said.
While restrictions under Section 144 of CrPC will remain in force from 10 PM on Thursday till 2 PM on Saturday in the seaside temple town of Odisha, a large contingent of police was being deployed to prevent people from gathering near the 12th century shrine, Puri district Collector Balwant Singh said.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has been decided that no devotee would be allowed during Lord Jagannath’s ‘Snana Purnima’ (bathing festival) and it would be observed only in the presence of a limited number of servitors, he said on Thursday.
A large number of devotees visit the Lord Jagannath temple in Puri every year on the occasion of the festival and the authorities asked them to watch the ritual on television this time as it will be telecast live.
Giving details of the security arrangements ahead of the ‘Snana Purnima’ rituals slated to commence in the early hours of Friday, DIG of Police (Central Range) Asish Singh said 38 platoons of police – each platoon consisting of around 33 personnel – are being deployed in Puri.
There will be round-the-clock police cover till completion of the entire proceedings, Singh said adding that steps will be taken to ensure that people follow the prohibitory orders and do not venture near the temple.
Barricades have been erected at strategic points where police personnel have been deployed. Only designated servitors and officials who have been issued passes can enter the shrine, the DIG said.
While there are CCTVs to keep a watch, 20 special cameras are also being installed for videography and effective monitoring near the ‘Snana Mandap’ (bathing altar) set up near the boundary wall inside the temple premises, he said.
Police will enforce the prohibitory orders, but essential services and people who are in an emergency will not be inconvenienced, Singh said.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has also made it clear that the temple will remain out of bounds for devotees till the Rath Yatra festival is completed on July 5.