One Killed, 10 Hurt As Balcony Collapses On A’bad Rath Yatris

Ahmedabad: The death of a person due to a balcony collapse marred the 146th annual Lord Jagannath Yatra procession which began early Tuesday with the signature religious fervour and gaiety as thousands thronged streets in old Ahmedabad. Ten others were reported injured in the collapse.

The yatra, which began from the 400-year-old Lord Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur area early morning, had reached the Dariapur locality when the third-floor balcony of a 3-storey old and dilapidated building collapsed on the devotees.

The State police deployed in huge strength immediately extricated those trapped in the debris and moved 11 people, including three children, to a hospital for treatment. Police said one of them, Mehul Panchal, 36, died during treatment. One other person was reported to be critical.

However, the yatra progressed soon after, guarded by a 26,000-strong police force. The Gujarat Police for the first time during the yatra used 3D mapping technology to monitor the entire route and also deployed anti-drone equipment to prevent any unauthorised drones during the event, police said.

Confluence of faith and devotion’

The festivities began in the wee hours when Union Home Minister Amit Shah, like every year, performed the “mangala aarti”, considered an auspicious ritual to pay obeisance to the deity, at the temple. Shah later tweeted that the yatra was a “confluence of faith and devotion” and described the experience of the Lord’s “darshan” as “divine and unforgettable”.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, as is the practice, performed ‘Pahind Vidhi’, a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots with a golden broom. This paved the way for the three chariots of the colourfully decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra embarked on the yatra.

There were dozens of elephants and carts pulled by camels and trucks with tableaux of devotional themes in the yatra, even as thousands milled around it paying obeisance to the deities. At several places, people sprinkled water and showered flower petals on the devotees from their balconies and terraces to beat the blistering heat.

CISF deployed in communally sensitive areas

Police took special precautions in the communally sensitive areas and even the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans were deployed along the route to prevent any untoward incident.

The security personnel wore as many as 2,322 body cameras, and 25 vehicles with CCTVs and a GPS system were used to keep a close watch on the entire procession along the 18-km-long route. All this, besides the 3D mapping of the route.

A total of 26,091 security personnel, including officers and policemen, as well as paramilitary forces, were deployed and 94 CCTV cameras set up across 45 sensitive locations to provide live feeds of the event.

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