In a novel step, the Varanasi Police have set up a fund to help devotees visiting Kashi Vishwanath temple. The police have opened an account in the State Bank of India’s branch in the temple campus to collect donations which will ultimately be used to help those in need.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Security), Varanasi will be the caretaker of the fund. Devotees who lose their money to pick-pocketers or to some other reason can approach either the bank manager, office of the ASP or the in-charge of the local police station for the financial help.
Following identity verification, the police will help the devotees by providing them railway tickets with some cash for expenses required for meal during the journey.
An authorised police official will arrange for the sleeper class tickets. The aggrieved devotee will also be given cash of Rs 200 per family member for each day of the journey and Rs 50 each for the medical expenses.
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Maximum amount of such help will be Rs 5,000. It will be at the discretion of the devotee if they want to return the money, but the police will not make any such request.
ASP (Security) Dr Anil Kumar Pandey told The Indian Express that the bank has been operational for the past three days with an amount of Rs 11,000 – donated by the policemen and the bank manager – already been collected so far. Any person can donate maximum of Rs 5000. ASP said that such financial help will also be given for medical treatment of the visitors who sustain injuries caused by simian bite on the temple campus. All such helps would be provided to the devotees within 30 minutes of their approaching the officials, added Pandey.
Speaking about the requirement of such a fund, Pandey said that complaints of pick-pocketing have increased with the swell of crowd. Beginning July 10, the huge gathering of devotees will only further increase.
For the crowd management, security officials have sent a proposal to the state government to install 51 high-definition CCTV cameras in red and yellow zones of the temple to keep watch on the movement of devotees. The project will cost around Rs 6 crore. At present, there are 21 CCTV cameras installed in these areas.
For the fire safety, PHQ has approved another proposal for laying of water pipelines on the entire temple campus and develop various points where water could be stored to be used during emergency.