Border Security Force personnel, who were supposed to leave for election duty in Gujarat today, have received instructions from the Union Home Ministry not to leave the city until the last and most popular idol, Lalbaugcha Raja, is safely immersed in the sea
Lending credence to reports of intelligence inputs warning of possible terror strikes in the city during the visarjan today, the Union home ministry has ordered the 200-odd BSF personnel in the city, who were supposed to leave for their home posting of Gujarat this morning, to stay on till September 10.
Besides accompanying the idols, the 200-odd jawans, most of whom have been stationed near Lalbaugcha Raja, will be posted at strategic locations along the immersion route. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The move, according to highly placed sources, is designed to ensure that the BSF jawans stay with the Ganpati idols, especially Lalbaugcha Raja, till they are immersed, so that they can ensure the safety of the thousands of devotees that accompany them. The heavily equipped jawans will also be manning various points along the immersion route to neutralise possible threats.
The BSF jawans will also be posted at strategic locations along the immersion route
The home ministry diktat comes in the wake of reports of intelligence inputs stating that suspicious movements have been noticed along Mumbai’s coast and that terrorists could attack the city on visarjan day. Eyebrows had been raised even when so many BSF jawans were called in to keep an eye on the Ganpati celebrations as this year is the first time this has happened.
The fact that the jawans were not allowed to leave today despite them being needed for the bypolls for ten seats in their home state of Gujarat on September 13 has only added to the mystery. “We received orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs just two days ago that the BSF jawans have to be stationed in Mumbai till the immersion of the idols.
There were plans that the BSF companies would be moved today to Gujarat, where the elections for 10 seats (nine assembly and 1 Lok Sabha) will be held on September 13. Now they will leave on September 10 despite the BSF rule of reaching their places of posting three days in advance to do a recce,” said a source.
“We will be in Mumbai till the time the idols are immersed in the sea,” confirmed Pranay Kumar, the head of the BSF battalion posted at Lalbaugcha Raja and in Maharashtra.
Besides accompanying the idols, the 200-odd jawans, most of whom have been stationed near Lalbaugcha Raja, will be posted at strategic locations along the immersion route. The company will also include a Quick Reaction Team, which can bring any situation under control within five minutes.
A special group headed by Commander Tarun Pratap will stay with the Lalbaugcha Raja idol right from Lalbaug tonight until tomorrow, when it is immersed. The Quick Reaction Team will have anywhere between 7 and 15 officers, who will be equipped with weapons and blank bullets. The team will also have sharp shooters.
Many BSF and Anti-Terrorism Squad officers will also be patrolling areas near Lalbaug in plain clothes. The BSF is also coordinating with the Oshiwara and Santacruz police for immersion at the Versova and Juhu beaches respectively.
Deven Bharti, Special Inspector General (Law and Order), who is coordinating with the BSF in the state, said any congregation is a potential target but added that all precautions have been taken.
“The route has been decided and all safety measures have been taken. There’s nothing to worry about,” said Bharti, confirming that the BSF would stay till the immersion but refuting rumours of terrorists having entered the city.
Number of policemen who will be deployed across the city today
Number of policemen, among these 47,000, who will be in plainclothes