Celebrations nixed; Navratra to being today amid tight security

TNN Bureau. Updated: 10/17/2020 11:30:32 AM Front Page

Jammu: The nine-day long Navratras will begin on Saturday amid tight security arrangements with fanfare in Katra and Jammu towns of the Union Territory.
Jammu and Kashmir Police have enhanced security blanket across the region especially in Jammu district and Katra town of Reasi district—the base camp of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine.
In view of COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Navratra Festival could not be organized but the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has increased the daily cap on pilgrims upto 7000.
“Security has been beefed up at several vital points,” a senior police official here said.
He said that the fool proof security arrangements are significantly heightened at the Jammu airport, railway stations, bus stands and other vital installations across the region.
Local police have been asked to remain extra vigilant and Para-military forces have also been deployed in several parts of the city for quick response in case an emergency situation arises.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu Zone Mukesh Singh also reviewed the security arrangements in detail with his subordinates ahead of Navratras.
He directed them to ensure that comprehensive deployment is made to maintain law and order and communal harmony and close watch be kept over the activities of anti-national, anti-social and other disgruntled elements.
It was also impressed upon the participants to ensure that nakas deployed around Katra Town are fully strengthened to ensure effective checking and frisking round the clock.
District SSPs concerned are directed to dominate the outer periphery of Katra Town, Trikuta Hills adjoining Bhawan area by way of regular patrolling.
Paramilitary and police personnel are patrolling and frisking people at important points in Jammu city, which is thronged by thousands of devotees every year, especially during Navratri.
The Shrine Board has also made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the large number of pilgrims likely to visit the Holy Cave Shrine during Navratras.
These arrangements include ensuring round the clock water and power supply all along the tracks leading to the Shrine, sanitation and sanitisation, medicare and availability of special “fast related” food at the catering outlets of the Shrine Board.
Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, Ramesh Kumar visited Bhawan and various other locations on the track and reviewed these arrangements.
The CEO said that like in the past, the Bhawan of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Atka and the area surrounding it has been beautifully decorated with exquisite flowers.
Likewise, the illumination of the Bhawan area with attractive and colourful lights has also been done.
He added that as was done in the last year’s Shardiya Navratras, there will be bhajan and bhaint performances by the renowned artistes during Morning and Evening Atka Aarti during these Navratras also.
Meanwhile, the ‘Mata Vaishno Devi Mobile App’ launched by the Shrine Board is gaining popularity among the devotees.
In the first instance, the Mobile App has been launched on Google Play Store and will later also be available on IOS platform. Initially, the option of Today’s Darshan, Live Atka Aarti, Yatra Registration Parchi, Pooja Prasad and Donations have been introduced.
During these Navratras, the live streaming of Shat Chandi Maha Yagya being performed at the Holy Shrine will also be available on this App.
Meanwhile in Jammu also all arrangements are put in place for smooth celebrations of Navratras.
“Security is tightened and we have appealed to people to cooperate with police and act as their ears and nose on seeing any suspicious movement,” a police official said.
He said that in case of any urgency, they must dial 100 and inform the police for timely and swift action.
Famous Kali temple commonly known as ‘Bawe Wali Mata’ is given a facelift ahead of the Navratras while security checkpoints have also been raised and traffic plans/advisories are issued for the visitors.
Moreover, devotees are advised to follow all guidelines issued from time to time by the government in view of COVID-19 pandemic and no devotee will be allowed to enter the temple premises without a face mask.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has also increased the limit of pilgrims to 7000 from October 15.
The CEO said that the earlier limit of 5,000 pilgrims per day has been enhanced to 7,000 pilgrims per day, irrespective of any limit for the pilgrims from within or outside J&K UT.
He added that the registration of pilgrims will continue to be through online mode only to avoid any assembly of persons at the Yatra Registration Counters.
The CEO further said that in view of the increasing number of pilgrims expected to visit the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi during Navratras, the services of Ponies, Pithoos and Palkis has also been allowed to operate on the track between Katra and Bhawan in a regulated manner by following all the safety norms and guidelines notified by the Government in order to ensure the safety and health of the pilgrims, Shrine Board staff and the service providers.
The pilgrimage to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi was suspended on March 18 in view of pandemic and resumed on August 16.

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