Security was tightened at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi for the Mahashivrati festivities on Monday, following intelligence inputs that religious venues across the country could be targeted by terrorists.
Security personnel from various agencies — including paramilitary forces, provincial armed constabulary jawans and the state police — were deployed at the spot to prevent any untoward incident during the event, which attracts thousands of Lord Shiva devotees to the temple town every year. The main deity at the Kashi Vishwanath temple is Lord Vishwanath, meaning ‘ruler of the universe’.
The entire area — comprising Dashawamedh, Lahurabeer, Maidagin, Laxa, Nai Sarak and the adjoining ghats — have been divided into five zones and 23 sectors for effective policing. Six additional superintendents of police, 13 deputy superintendents of police and several inspectors have been deployed across the sector.
Quick response teams were kept on stand-by, and police personnel were asked to be additionally vigilant in the Dashashwamedh area. Besides personnel from the anti-terrorist squad, a team of divers was also deployed in the area as a preventive measure. “The entire area has been turned into a fortress. Additional personnel have also been called from adjoining districts. We have also installed closed circuit television cameras across the area,” said Dy SP Alok Jaiswal, Dashaswamedh circle officer.
Security has also been tightened at other prominent religious centres — including Baba Kaal Bhairav temple, Maa Durga temple and Sankatmochan temple — in the city. The Kashi Vishwanath temple on the premises of the Banaras Hindu University has also been put on high alert.
The Centre has put out a multi-city alert for possible strikes at religious places by a group of 10 terrorists who were believed to have sneaked into the country. Trains passing through Varanasi were searched, and police have been instructed to question people who look suspicious. Security personnel have been deployed at all the three railway stations in the area.
Nearly 1.2 lakh devotees had offered prayers to Lord Vishwanath till Monday noon.