Days after the deputy commissioner banned VIP passes for the annual Chaitra Navratra fair at Mansa Devi temple here, the district administration has decided to continue giving out invitation cards to a select few.
Around 800 invitation cards were printed of which around 400 have been issued for the fair that is starting on Saturday and will continue till March 28. Among those to receive the invites are ministers, MPs, MLAs and top officers.
“We call a guest for the morning prayer everyday. These cards can only be used for this ceremony and are not transferrable. Hence, they cannot be misused,” reasoned deputy commissioner-cum-chief administrator of Mansa Devi board Vivek Atray.
He said, “Earlier, 10,000 passes used to be given out. But there can never be such a huge number of VIPs. Therefore, we have cut down on the number drastically.”
Those invited would be allowed to use separate entry to temple and sanctum sanctorum.
There used to be a huge craze for VIP passes as they allowed easy access to sanctum sanctorum amid lakhs of devotees who wait for hours to pay obeisance. Politicians, their supporters, head of departments and even journalists were beneficiaries of these passes.
Admn gears up for fair
The district administration has made elaborate security arrangements for the navratra fair. As many as 16 checkpoints will be manned by cops with the help of wireless communication to check movement of undesirable elements. Also, home guards will be deployed in the vicinity of the temple.
Special arrangements have been made for senior citizens and physically-disabled people who will be allowed to enter the temple premises through gate number two. In addition to regular community kitchens, 15 temporary community kitchens and three bhandara committees are running round-the-clock to provide hygienic food to devotees.