Thursday, July 25, 2013

FLOWER POWER & SECURITY TOWER @ SHIRDI SHRINE

There has always been a threat to the famous Sai Baba Shrine`Shirdi from terrorists since the past 8 years and the present police security as well as the Temple's private security seemed inadequate. Considering the heavy rush of devotees, with nearly 2 crore people from all over India and abroad visiting the shrine annually, proper security like CISF was required as it was observed that proper checking at the entrance gates was not being done by the security men and also the CCTV cameras installed in the premises were not being properly monitored. It was noted that the present security men sometimes indulged in altercation with devotees and allow them to carry mobile phones inside the temple premises.

According to Shirdi Sansthan Trust's Executive Officer Kishor More, the Sai Trust at present has 787 security employees, including 44 policemen which included 15 armed police personnel at its five gates and 12 Rapid Action Force jawans. Apart from this, the State Government has 50 policemen & a bomb detection and disposal squad on standby at the temple.


So, in December 2012, Maharashtra's Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had written a letter to the Union Home Ministry requesting to hand over Saibaba temple's security to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), for which the Shirdi Sai Baba Trust was ready to bear all the cost of the troop deployment. But this request of his for CISF Security was refused.

In March 2013, following the twin bomb blasts close proximity of the Sai Baba Temple in Hyderabad, the Security arrangements at the Shirdi Temple were reviewed and the Sai Trust had planned to disallow devotees from bringing garlands and flowers, which terror groups could use to conceal bombs and sneak in, in case of an attack.

Kishore More added that since many devotees buy big garlands that are brought in bags it was difficult to keep check on each and every devotee and his offerings. He felt that some terror group might exploit an opportunity to sneak in an explosives-laden garland into the shrine by disguising themselves as devotees and the Sai Trust did not want to take a chance with that.But many devotees were not happy with this decision as then apart from offering Cash they would have no other alternative. Also, they felt that if the Temples Security guards carried on their duties of checking properly there would be no need to Ban the entry of flowers or garlands etc at all.

Also, all the flower vendors numbering to around 350 shops in and around the Shirdi Sai Temple were very disappointed with this news, as around 2200 workers are involved in making 300 kilos of Flowers regularly to be offered by devotees, for which poor farmers work throughout the year to keep the supply of Flowers constant to Shirdi. They had warned that if such a decision was taken then they would hold protest march against it as it would affect the daily bread-n-butter of around 2000 families.

Finally, it seems, this decision was not forced upon as even today, many devotees are seen carrying flowers inside the Shirdi Shrine. In 2007, after receiving a terror threat, the Shirdi Temple had banned carrying cell phones into the shrine and a couple of years back Offering Coconuts was also banned at the Sai Baba Temple.

In July 2013, after the serial bomb blasts in Bodhgaya, finally the Home Minister has promised to consider requests for CISF security for prominent religious places but only after examining the CISF Act, as it was a 'force' raised for carrying out a specific job of providing security to strategically important industrial and commercial establishments and not assigned for protecting any religious sites.

Also, as the Shri Saibaba Sansthan draws up a new security plan for the Temple Complex, it is puzzled as to where should the devotees park their Footwear. The Trust does not want devotees to return to fetch their shoes etc after the Darshan for fear of chaos, as the weekdays footfall at the temple is average 50,000, and it crosses 1,30,000 on weekends.

It has 2 plans with emphasis on location of Shoes and distance of the Queue complex from Pimpalwadi Road. The Queue complex across Pimpalwadi Road will accommodate devotees waiting to enter the Shrine. It will be a Multi-storey building with the capacity to hold 1 lakh people. The trust is planning a Flyover or an Underground Passage to connect the Complex to the Shrine. In view of security concerns expressed by the Union Home Ministry and State police, it wants to maintain a "good distance" between Pimpalwadi Road and the Complex. At present, a temporary Queue shelter blocks the road.

Credits: Article By - Rohit Behal


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