9 December 2006

Deepam Security

Now that the day of the lighting of the Deepam flame is over and the crowds have receded we can look back and be grateful at how orderly the huge function proceeded.

Everything changes with time. Procedures at airports are becoming increasingly long drawn out, CCTVs are now a way of life in most major Western cities and ubiquitous passes and permissions become ever increasingly divided into more exclusive and security-rated categories.

The last few years have not been happy ones in some Temples here in India and it is only appropriate that proper security was observed at Tiruvannamalai during this important and busy Festival. And yet, it seems so strange compared to just a few years ago, when everything was simple, relaxed, spontaneous and stress free.

This year nearly 6,000 police personnel (including reserve police, Tamil Nadu special police force and regular police from various State zones) were deployed at this year's Karthigai Deepam to ensure the safety of a million pilgrims during the climatic lighting of the Maha Deepam at dusk on December 3rd.

For the first time this year all Temple Staff, including priests had to wear identity cards. All entry points to the Temple were monitored by Close Circuit Television (CCTV) and by crime experts (from all 30 Tamil Nadu State Districts) and designated entrances were allocated to visitors to Temple.

During the Maha Deepam Festival 16 criminals were arrested for their involvement in various criminal activities including theft. And 41 people, who became lost in the huge crowd, were reunited with their families with the help of police. Traffic was well managed soon after the Deepam festival concluded and no traffic congestion was reported.


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