Ahmedabad Rath Yatra culminates peacefully amid massive security arrangements

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Ahmedabad, Jul 7 (PTI) The 147th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath culminated in Gujarat's Ahmedabad on Sunday evening with lakhs of devotees lining up along the route to offer prayers amid tight security.

The yatra of the raths (chariots) of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, pulled by Khalashi community members as per the age-old tradition, started in the morning. The Rath Yatra is taken out on the Ashadhi Beej (second day of Hindu Ashadh month) every year.

The three chariots returned to the temple by 9:15pm after traversing several localities of Gujarat's largest city, including the Old City and some communally sensitive areas.

In the morning, Union Home Minister Amit Shah performed 'mangla aarti' and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel performed 'pahind vidhi', the ritual of cleaning the way using a golden broom, as the chariots rolled out from the 400-year-old Lord Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area.

The procession passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from any place along the route, officials said.

Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi said the administration had made proper arrangements to ensure devotees did not face any hassle during the massively patronised yatra.

"New technology was used to ensure people did not face any inconvenience while offering prayers. I thank the people for waiting patiently to pray and administration of Ahmedabad. Police and residents ensured passage for 108 ambulance service to reach those in need of them," he said.

The GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute, which operates 108 ambulance service, said more than 40 calls were received during the Rath Yatra from devotees complaining of falling, fainting, vomiting and abdominal pain, stroke etc.

To address any medical emergency, 16 ambulances and medical teams at five government-run hospitals were also kept on stand-by, officials said.

After performing the pahind ceremony in the morning, the CM supervised the route, location, and security arrangements through the CM Dashboard, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.

A senior police official said more than 22,000 security personnel were deployed to guard the event and some balloon-mounted cameras were put in place to keep a watch on people's movement.

As many as 4,500 personnel were deployed to walk with the procession along the entire 16-km route while 1,931 personnel managed traffic during the 147th edition of the annual Rath Yatra.

Senior police officials kept a close watch on the procession using 1,733 body-worn cameras linked to a control room.

Besides, 20 drones and 96 surveillance cameras were installed at 47 locations on the route. Nearly 1,400 CCTV cameras installed by shopkeepers on the route were also used for live surveillance.

The procession consisted of decorated elephants, trucks converted tableaux, 'akhadas' (local gymnasiums) along with bhajan mandlis. A tableau of the T20 World Cup, which India won recently, and those depicting renewable sources like solar and wind energy were highlights of the procession.

The procession usually consists of 18 decorated elephants, 100 trucks and 30 'akhadas' (local gymnasiums).

Rath yatras were also held in other cities in Gujarat, including Surat. PTI KA PD GK BNM