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25,000 people, no CCTV cameras

Police have asked organisers of Sawai Gandharv Mahotsav to install CCTV cameras at the fest venue, but they have turned a blind eye to it

The Sawai Gandharv Sangeet Mahotsav, attended by around 25,000 music lovers on Day I, may be prone to untoward incidents. For, the organisers have turned a blind eye towards imminent security threats to the fest by showing reluctance to install CCTV cameras at the venue of the five-day gala.


Security awareness: A policeman addresses a gathering at Sawai 
Gandharv festival. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

While the fest, renamed as Sawai Gandharv Bhimsen Mahotsav, is receiving overwhelming response from music lovers as the premises of Ramanbaug New English School witnessed a footfall of around 25,000 enthusiasts on day one, the nagging fear of an imminent attack loomed large in their minds.

Harish Sathe, a classical music enthusiast who has been attending the fest for years, said, "Security of the audience should be the top priority. Fortunately, nothing untoward has happened in the past even after the 26/11 attacks and German Bakery blast. We should not be under the impression that this fest is immune from such terror threats. I am of the opinion that an elaborate arrangement of CCTV cameras should be made at the venue to thwart any eventualities."

According to the police, they have been instructing the organizers to install CCTV cameras post the 26//11 attacks, but to no avail. The cops had also warned about an imminent threat to the fest when the German Bakery blast happened in 2010, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. 

This time also the police have instructed the organisers to install the CCTV cameras on at fest venue. The directive assumes significance in the wake of reports of a foiled terror attack on the Dagdhusheth Ganapati temple, which 10 minutes away from the fest venue.

"This foiled terror attack goes on to establish that the German Bakery blast was not the case in isolation and that the city is still prone to terror attacks. So any lapse on security may lead to a disaster," said a police officer requesting anonymity.

Dnyaneshwar Phadtare, DCP Zone I, said, "It is really sad to remind the same thing again and again to these people. Following a serious terrorist threat to the Dagdusheth temple, we have issued a letter to the organizers of the fest to install at least a set of 10 CCTV cameras inside the Ramanbaugh grounds. We expect that the same shall be done by Thursday."

He added, "Security is the key issue and nobody should it." Playing down the issue of security threat, Mukund Sangoram, Joint Secretary, Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, said, "We are constructing a bigger pandal this time and there is no such need to installing cameras. And in any case, the police have not asked us to do so as yet."

Bouncers for security
Usually, the musical fest installs 14 monitors to watch the performance of artistes. In addition, two big projectors are also installed near the main pandal. "We have been recording the entire programme for the past 22 years," said Somnath Kelkar, Hindustan Video Film Company. According to Kelkar, private and police security arrangements are much better this time. "And to top it all, sniffer dogs have been brought in to ensure a trouble free fest. Around 25 bouncers have been deputed to control an unruly mob," he added.

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