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Security beefed up for Navratra at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine

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Katra: Drones and quick reaction teams of security forces are being deployed at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine for the upcoming Navratra festival, officials said on Saturday.
The pilgrim rush to the shrine usually witnesses a manifold increase during the nine-day festival, scheduled to start on October 15 and end on October 23.
The directions to step up security during the festival came during a joint review meeting of Anshul Garg, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, with security agencies at Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the shrine atop the Trikuta hills.
Presiding over the meeting, Garg reviewed the security and operational preparedness of the shrine area for hassle-free pilgrimage before the onset of Shardiya’ Navratra, the officials said.
At the meeting, Reasi Senior Superintendent of Police and CRPF Commandant shared details of the security measures to be taken during the Navratra at Katra and en route to the holy shrine, besides deployment of quick response teams and a multi-tier security grid comprising police, CRPF and other paramilitary forces.
Garg exhorted for action on diverse fronts for hassle-free pilgrimage during the upcoming festival.
“The stakeholders shall ensure that the pilgrims before embarking on the Yatra, wear their valid RFID card at all times as they are linked with various facilities during the yatra and no pilgrim shall be allowed to start the yatra without a valid RFID card,” he said.
He also asked security personnel deployed at all entry points to remain more vigilant so that no devotee enters the pilgrimage track without frisking and registration.
Garg directed that drones be used for real-time monitoring of people’s movement besides deployment of additional forces in and around Katra and on the track en route to the temple’s sanctum sanctorum to ensure foolproof security and effective crowd management.
He added that apart from the deployment of security personnel, CCTVs installed along the route will be acting as watchdogs.
He directed the Katra Sub-Divisional Magistrate to verify details of pony porters to check any suspicious activity on the track and ensure extensive checking at different places for overcharging of fares.
The shrine board CEO also reviewed the disaster management measures including firefighting preparedness. He directed the security forces to monitor vulnerable places and jointly simulate exercises to deal with crowd management on the ground. A slew of directives were also issued for the movement of vehicles, sanitation and drinking water arrangements and illumination of dark spots at Katra town, besides physical and systematic improvements wherever required after critical examination, the officials said.

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