Judgment day,40,000 personnel of state police,SRPF,RAF,QRT pressed into service across Gujarat; bulk SMS service remains barred
Gujrat Police has gone in for one of its biggest deployments in recent times as the verdict on the Ayodhya title suits is set to be delivered on Thursday.
Some 40,000 policemen have been put on guard across the state. These include 79 companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF),with one women battalion. Four Rapid Action Force (RAF) companies have been deployed in Ahmedabad,Vadodara and Surat and one company has been kept reserved in Gandhinagar. Quick Response Teams (QRTs) have been deployed in each city and district in addition to 10,000 Home Guards to assist the policemen. Sudhir Sinha,ADGP (Law and Order),said: We have declared an alert from Thursday afternoon and all policemen will be on stand-to from 3pm onwards. We have deployed 54 SRPF companies for round-the-clock security,in addition to 25 more companies which have been kept ready. In all,nearly 40,000 policemen across Gujarat have been put on duty.
He added: We have also cancelled leave of all police officers. No fresh leave will be granted. The entire force will remain on duty until further orders.
In addition,the Crime Branch,Special Branch and Special Operations Group personnel will patrol the sensitive areas in all cities and districts in plainclothes. These agencies have been directed to gather information and monitor suspicious activities. Sinha added: The patrol parties will be equipped with video cameras to record all developments in their respective cities. The Commissioners and Superintendents of Police will prepare detailed schemes for the same. Malls and multiplexes have been alerted to keep their cameras in working conditions.
In Ahmedabad,20 companies of SRPF,four companies of Border Wing,one company of RAF,and 18 Police Control Room (PCR) vans have been deployed. Three QRTs comprising trained commandos will also be on duty. Additional forces have also been deployed in Dariapur,Shahpur,Kalupur,Karanj and Bapunagar areas of the city.
On Wednesday,the police conducted a flag march in Shahpur,Kalupur,Dariapur,Gaekwad Haveli and other sensitive areas along with SRPF and the Rapid Action Force. Senior officers took part in the march.
Joint Commissioner of Police Satish Sharma said: The flag march was carried out in different pockets of the old city. All the five DCPs along with their policemen marched on the routes. The city policemen were asked to patrol along with the paramilitary units to work in co-ordination with them.
The Ahmedabad police have also begun fresh combing operations to nab suspicious persons or gangs that were in the past involved in criminal cases. Sharma said: We have checked the rooftops and houses in the sensitive areas for stones,brickbats and chemicals.
The policemen have been given handheld cameras to keep a close watch on all movements. The PCRs have been directed to inform senior officers in time for any emergency.
Group Short Messaging Service (SMS) will be disabled by all mobile service providers in accordance with the high alert issued across six states ahead of the verdict. Group SMS services will be disabled from 4 pm on September 30 to 9 am on October 1,2010, he said.
A large contingent of SRPF,Border Wing and BSF have been deployed in the diamond city. Additional paramilitary units deployed for the Ganesh immersion ceremony have not been discharged,keeping in mind the Ayodhya verdict.
Additional Commissioner of Police,Range-1,B D Vaghela,said: We conducted mock-drills in different areas a few days ago. Police officers posted at different locations have been fully briefed. We have deployed policemen at all religious places,sensitive areas,even on the terraces of buildings and other vantage points.
Shanti Samithi Meetings were organised under the leadership of the mayor and the city police commissioner where Hindu and Muslim leaders assured support to maintain calm.
The police said they are being extra cautious this time in view of the large scale violence that followed the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992,killing 152 people.
The coastal town of Prabhas Patan,seat of the Somnath Temple,has been turned into a high-security zone. This was the place from where senior BJP leader L K Advani began the Rath Yatra to Ayodhya on September 25,1990.
Besides the regular police force,Somnath Temple has been given additional cover of two SRPF companies. The temple has always been well-guarded,but now security has been stepped up in and around the town. One of the two SRPF companies has been dedicated for the temple and the other is keeping watch in the vicinity. The local administration has been put on high alert, said Junagadh Superintendent of Police Dipankar Trivedi.
He said high alert has been sounded in the district from Wednesday and the police is helping the district administration organise Shanti Samiti meetings involving leaders of both communities. Earlier,we thought of Shanti Samiti meetings only in the sensitive areas like Mangrol,but later organised them at all police stations, Trivedi said,adding that both communities have extended full support to maintain peace in the region.
Besides,one additional company of SRPF has been deployed in the sensitive areas. A total of 140 Home Guards have also been deployed as part of the security apparatus.
Two companies of the Border Wing and one each of SRPF and RAF have been deployed. The city police also organised a flag march in the Walled City area along with the paramilitary units today.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras at sensitive spots will be monitored through the PCR. A strict patrol schedule has been chalked out to keep an eye on trouble-making elements. The police have also begun preventive detentions in some areas.
Vadodara Commissioner of Police Rakesh Asthaana said: Paramilitary forces will keep an eye in all the sensitive points in the city,while officers from the police stations in the Walled City will undertake the patrol.
The police have also requested people to keep a strict watch on their neighbourhoods and call up the police stations rather than rely on rumours.
The police have also mounted a strict vigil on bookies who have in the past placed bets on clashes,their time of occurrence,and the death toll and consequently triggered violence.
VTCOS officials denied that buses will be taken off the roads. We have taken no such decision. They will run as scheduled, said an official.