The 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra was concluded in old city Ahmedabad amid huge fanfare and heavy police security Friday as Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel flagged off the procession only three days after he tested positive for Covid-19.
The annual yatra was held after a gap of two years after the procession was curtailed for the past two years due to the pandemic.
On Friday, the ceremony began around 4 am when Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived at the temple premises to conduct the “Mangla Aarti”. Shah left shortly after.
Later, CM Patel flagged off the procession. Uncertainty had prevailed over the CM’s presence in the yatra until Thursday after he contracted Covid. However, late Thursday, the Lord Jagannath Temple management was informed that the CM will attend the event as per “doctors’ advice”. On Friday morning, CM Patel was seen wearing a mask and performing the traditional “pahind” ceremony at the Lord Jagannath Temple premises.
“On the occasion of the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, I pray for the well being, peace and prosperity of the people of Gujarat. I also congratulate the people of Kutch on Kutchi New Year,” said Patel, while addressing reporters outside the temple.
Governor Acharya Devvrat, state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Aravind Kumar and former state home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja were also present at the event.
A total of 18 elephants and 101 tableau depicting various Akhadas and Bhajan Mandalis and over 2,000 sadhu saints, along with several hundred thousands of devotees were part of the procession that travelled via sensitive pockets of old city Ahmedabad from 7 am to 6 pm.
Security was beefed up with over 25,000 police and security personnel in the Jamalpur area of old city Ahmedabad as a high alert was sounded in the wake of the Udaipur terror killing.
The procession was surveilled through drone cameras and a helicopter. For the first time, the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad was roped in for security measures.
Meanwhile, as many as 20 persons, including three children, received minor injuries when the slab of a one-room pucca cabin on which they were standing, collapsed, on the route of the rath yatra.
According to police, the incident occurred around 1 pm when the roof of a cabin built alongside
the road collapsed in Shahpur while the yatra procession was going on.
Incidentally, state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and Ahmedabad city police commissioner Sanjay Srivastava were present at the spot when the incident occurred and they rushed for help.
“As many as 20 people received minor injuries when the roof collapsed on which they were standing. The home minister and police commissioner responded to the accident and helped rescuers and took stock of the situation. The victims received minor bruises,” said a senior police official at Gaekwad Haveli Police Station.