Anti-terror shield Rath Yatra

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In a bid to thwart a possible terrorist attack during the June 29 Rath Yatra in Puri, the state police are toying with the idea to press into service two drone-cameras to keep an aerial watch on the festival. The cameras would be fitted in two remote-controlled flying gadgets.

“In previous festivals, we installed CCTV cameras on elevated vantage points. Even though we will continue with the CCTV surveillance system, we are planning to engage two drone-cameras that will fly over the Grand Road and Jagannath Temple during the festival. A control room would be set up, where we will keep a hawk eye on suspicious characters,” a senior police officer told TOI, requesting anonymity.

The recent visit of two Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives to Puri and their explosive statement of attack during the car festival sent chills down the spine of Odisha police. On Monday, some senior police officers took stock of the security arrangements and hinted at usage of modern security gadgets to prevent any untoward incident.

The plan of using drone-cameras came close on the heels of a controversy over the aerial shoot of Jagannath Temple by two foreign tourists, triggering security concern among priests and citizens. The video clip went viral on social networking site.

“Since terrorists these days have become tech-savvy, the police should change its preparedness and take the use of technology to upgrade its security apparatus. We should not raise concern over the aerial shoot of Jagannath Temple as it might create panic among tourists. Rather such aerial clip can be used to attract tourists,” said Yugabrat Kar, secretary of Odisha tour operators’ association.

In a related development, the Puri police have decided to regulate traffic on the circular road along the Meghanada Pacheri (outer wall of Jagannath Temple). Sources at the Puri collector’s office said he has already passed an order of “one way” on the circular road and asked the police to implement it.

Police said they would now strictly implement an earlier decision to keep the frontage of Jagannath Temple free from vehicles. “We will not allow any vehicle near the temple. Encroachments around the Meghanada Pacheri would be removed,” a police officer said.

Safety First

* Authorities planning to engage two drone-cameras that will fly over the Grand Road and Jagannath Temple during Rath Yatra

* A control room to be set up to keep a close watch on suspicious characters

* CCTV surveillance system around Rath Yatra to continue

* The trigger: Recent visit of Indian Mujahideen operatives and their revelation that they intended to launch an attack during the festival

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