To minimise incidents of vehicles breaking down during the palkhi procession from Alandi and Dehu to Pandharpur, the rural police has asked the warkaris (pilgrims) who come in big jeeps, trucks and tractors to get fitness certificates from the regional transport authorities of the respective talukas before hitting the road for the procession.
The palkhi procession from Dehu will commence on June 29, while the pilgrimage from Alandi will begin on June 30. Lakhs of devotees from different parts of the district and also from the state participate in the palkhi processions for the Ashadi Ekadashi festival in Pandharpur and warkaris carry padukas (footwear) of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram to Pandharpur in Solapur district from Alandi and Dehu.
“Every year, warkaris who bring dindis (small group of warkaris carrying the images of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram and Lord Vitthal) come along with vehicles like jeeps, trucks and tractors and there are instances when these vehicles break down,” said superintendent of police (Pune rural) Manoj Lohiya.
He said that to minimise such incidents, this time they have made it mandatory for each and every vehicle that is going to take part in the procession to undergo a fitness test by the regional transport authority and get a no-objection certificate. “We will also be keeping towing vans, which can be used to impound vehicles,” Lohiya said. He further stated that this year they will be restricting people who drive in their vehicles up to the Dive Ghat on Pune-Solapur Highway, through which the procession passes. He added that eatables would also be distributed among the warkaris.
“To prevent traffic on the highway we have banned people from entering the Ghat,” said additional superintendent of police Ravindrasinh Pardeshi.
The rural police have formed two control rooms, one for Dehu procession and another for Alandi, with CCTV monitoring systems, where people can call.
Pardeshi said that to curb pick-pocketing, chain-snatching and molesting incidents plainclothes policemen will be deployed to keep a close watch on offenders. Both the palkhis will arrive in the city on July 1 and will leave the city on July 3.