Hyderabad on high alert as Ganesh procession begins

September 14th, 2008 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Sep 14 (IANS) Thousands of Ganesh idols were taken out in a procession on the streets of this Andhra Pradesh city for immersion Sunday amid a high alert and unprecedented security in view of the serial blasts that rocked Delhi Saturday.Over 30,000 security personnel including those drawn from paramilitary forces are keeping a tight vigil along the 25 km long procession route in view of the threats from terrorists.

The security was further beefed up after the blasts in the national capital and during checking, the police picked up four people moving around under suspicious circumstances. Police officials were questioning them.

The main procession carrying huge idols began from Balapur on the city outskirts after the traditional auction of ‘laddu’. Mohan Reddy, a local resident, bought 21 kg ‘laddu’ for a record price of Rs.507,000.

The procession will cross communally sensitive old city and the historic Charminar before reaching Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city for immersion.

Dozens of processions from other parts of Hyderabad and Secunderabad will join it enroute. Over 13,000 idols of varying sizes will be immersed in the lake, which divides the twin cities.

Officials have deployed 35 cranes at the lake for immersion, which will continue till the early hours of Monday.

About a million people attend the immersion procession, which brings the city to a grinding halt. Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samiti, the organisers of the annual procession, claim it to be the second biggest procession after Mumbai.

As the festival this year is coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and intelligence agencies warning of threats from terrorists, the city police have made unprecedented security.

Police Commissioner B. Prasad Rao himself is monitoring the procession from a helicopter hovering over the procession route.

Deployment of 42 bomb disposal and access control teams equipped with door frame and hand held metal detectors, deep search mine detectors and explosive vapour detectors, anti-sabotage teams with 33 sniffer dogs and watch towers and rooftop security posts all along the main and subsidiary procession routes form part of the security arrangements.

The police have also deployed 100 closed circuit television cameras to keep an eye on the trouble-makers. A large number of videographers have also been employed to record the proceedings, especially at sensitive points like the historic Mecca Masjid and dozens of other mosques along the procession route.

The police commissioner advised people to keep watch on the movements of people around them and alert nearby policemen if any suspicious person is found carrying bags or boxes. He appealed to people to be cautious about even dustbins as the terrorists planted explosives in them in New Delhi.

The police have made elaborate arrangements in view of the blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July. Hyderabad had also suffered three blasts last year, claiming over 50 lives.

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