There’s some sobering in the midst of all the festive fervency. Commissioner of police Gulabrao Pol (in pic top right) yesterday stated that Pune is still on the hit list of terrorist organisations, and the fact has been reaffirmed in information revealed by some recently arrested radicals. This, he opined, was reason to trim down the duration of visarjan processions, set to inundate the city tomorrow. When questioned about this, Pol accepted that owing to augmented number of mandals, police wouldn’t be able to wrap up the programme in time.
“We have installed 1,500 CCTV cameras on the procession route. Important and sensitive Ganesh mandals and the areas nearby are being checked every day to preclude any untoward incidents. Fixed checkpoints have been created at 90 locations with armed policemen assigned. Border Security Force (BSF) team has also arrived in the city, besides the Quick Response Teams, State Reserve Police Force platoons, Home Guards and Civil Defence personnel,” Pol said.
The commissioner went on to attribute some blame to the changed demographics of the city. “Recently some villages were merged with Pune Municipal Corporation, which has led to an increase in population by 14 lakh. The number of registered Ganesh mandals in the city has gone up by 500, the figure now standing at 3,955. Most of these mandals want to take the Laxmi Road or Tilak Road route for visarjan procession. Owing to this it becomes difficult to reduce the procession time. Also, we can’t set a cut-off time and mandals themselves should take the initiative,” he said.
Speaking to MiD DAY, deputy commissioner of police (zone I) Makarand Ranade said, “The visarjan procession on Laxmi Road will start at 10.30 am on Wednesday from Tilak Statue Chowk at Mandai. Only three dhol-tasha troupes are allowed to perform for every mandal on the route. The other important mandals like Shrimant Bhau Rangari Mandal, Akhil Mandai Mandal and Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandal will start their advance at around 11 pm on Wednesday.”
On the other hand, politicians have been trying to put the onus on the police, maintaining that ensuring safety is the department’s job and any attempts to curtail the procession are uncalled for. Shiv Sena MLA Mahadev Babar said, “No limitations should beimposed on the mandals. If police are reducing the numbers of groups in the festivities, then this isn’t good. Terrorists can strike anywhere. No dhol-tasha troupes were playing at German Bakery when the blast took place.”
“Ganesh mandals and the police are both right. Cops are doing their duty and the mandals are indulging in their celebrations. So no one is to blame. What is needed is just some coordination,” Congress MLC Mohan Joshi said. “By enforcing restrictions, police are running away from their duties. The Ganesh festival was also celebrated decades ago and will be celebrated years from now. There is no need to stay at home just because of the fear of terrorist attack,” said Ravindra Dhangekar, corporator from MNS.
Roads closed on Wednesday during procession:
>> Shivaji Rd: Kakasaheb Gadgil statue to Jedhe chowk
>> Laxmi Rd: Sant Kabir chowk to Tilak chowk near Alka Talkies
>> Bajirao Rd: Sarasbaug to Futka buruj chowk
>> Kumthekar Rd: Tilak chowk to Chitale corner chowk
>> Tilak Rd: Jedhe chowk to Tilak chowk
>> JM Rd: Jhansi Rani Laxmibai chowk to Khandojibaba chowk
>> Shastri Rd – Senadutt chowk to Tilak chowk
>> FC Rd: Khandojibaba chowk to Fergusson College gate
>> Karve Rd: Nalstop to Khandojibaba chowk
>> Bhandarkar Rd: PYC Gymkhana to Gopalkrishna chowk near Goodluck hotel, to Natraj chowk on JM Rd
1,500 No of CCTV cameras in place on the procession route
3,955 Number of registered Ganesh mandals in the city, up by 500 since last year