Massive security in Hyderabad for Ganesh festival, Ramadan

September 2nd, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Sep 2 (IANS) Over 25,000 policemen have been deployed here as the city police are on high alert for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival beginning Wednesday and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which began Tuesday.As the two major festivals are coinciding and in view of the recent blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, the police are not taking any chances and have called additional forces from other parts of Andhra Pradesh.

“Recent blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Banglaore suggest that terrorist organisations are active. Hyderabad city also suffered blasts last year. In view of the prevailing security environment and increased threat from CPI (Maoists) and terrorist organisations, it is imperative to make proper security arrangements during these festivals,” said Hyderabad police commissioner B. Prasada Rao.

He told a news conference here Tuesday that all wings of the city police were being involved in the security arrangements while management committees of temples and mosques and organisers of Ganesh pandals and others were being sensitised on security to ensure smooth conduct of the festivals.

Ganesh Chaturthi, one of the biggest festivals here, is beginning Wednesday. More than 12,000 Ganesha idols will be installed across the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The festival will culminate on Sep 14 with the idols being taken out in a mammoth procession and immersed in Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city and dozens of other tanks on the outskirts.

The procession brings the city to a grinding halt as over a million people come out on the streets for the annual event. As the procession has been marred by communal violence in the sensitive old city area in the past, the police make elaborate arrangements every year. With the festival coinciding with Ramadan and in view of the recent blasts, police were maintaining a tight vigil.

The city had also witnessed three bomb blasts last year killing over 50 people. While nine people were killed in a blast during Friday prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid on May 18, two near-simultaneous blasts at a public park and a popular eatery had claimed 43 lives.

The police commissioner said as many as 14,477 personnel of different wings of city police were deployed as part of the security arrangements. In addition to this, 11,548 policemen called from other districts were also deployed.

As many as 42 bomb disposal teams with 33 sniffer dogs, 80 access control and anti-sabotage teams have also been deployed to foil any attempt to disrupt the festivities. The commissioner said 239 mobile teams were also constituted and checking of vehicles at different points and frisking of people was being undertaken.

In an attempt to sensitise people on the security, police had already come out with an audio and video cassette ‘voice against violence’. The cassette being played at public places advises people to remain alert to foil any attempt by terrorists to carry out the blasts.

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