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No VVIP ride on chariots

india Updated: Jun 27, 2006 04:01 IST
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When the chariots of the Holy Trinity -- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra -- start rolling on Tuesday, commoners will have a better chance of darshan.

Except the temple sevayats, everyone else, including VVIPs, have been barred from boarding the chariots. Crowding of the chariots used to block the view of deities.

Rath Yatra is the only annual occasion during which foreigners, who are not allowed to enter Jagannath temple, get a chance for the deities’ darshan.

Chief administrator of the temple SC Mohapatra said any non-sevayat boarding the chariots would be immediately arrested and criminal proceedings would be initiated against him. If any sevayat facilitates the boarding of any pilgrim on the chariots, he would also be arrested, Mohapatra added.

“Even if there was a restriction earlier on boarding the chariots, in the absence of punitive measures the same was not adhered. However, we are very strict this time. Anybody irrespective of his position won’t be spared for any violation,” Mohapatra said.

Puri SP Sanjeev Panda said two police teams would keep constant watch on the activities on the chariots. For security during annual outing of the deities, 63 armed police platoons, apart from 150-odd police officers above the rank of assistant sub-inspector, have been deployed. Several sections of rapid action force and anti-sabotage squads are also on duty.

In view of the recent terror attacks in Ayodhya and Varanasi, the police have mounted a strict surveillance of all movements into Puri. Spotters roped in from neighbouring states have been stationed at all entry and exit points to screen each and every vehicle coming to Puri. Cameras have also been installed to record and monitor crowd movements throughout the day.