Pandharpur Wari begins: Huge turnout expected, heavy police force in place; drones, canine units for checks

Palkhi procession of Sant Tukaram Maharaj started from Dehu on Monday. And the procession of Sant Dnyaneshwar from Alandi on Tuesday. With both processions scheduled to arrive in its jurisdiction on June 24, Pune city police has deployed heavy force and has imposed traffic restrictions and diversions.

Police officials and Pune district administration are expecting a huge turnout from across the state for the Pandharpur Wari, which is happening without any restrictions for the first time after two years. The annual event for the Warkari sect is key to Maharashtra’s cultural identity.

Both processions, carrying the Paduka or revered symbolic footwear of Sant Tukaram Maharaj and Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj respectively, would reach Hadapsar on Pune-Solapur road on June 24 before moving towards Saswad via Dive Ghat. Processions would then carry out their journey to the historic temple place of Pandharpur.

Pune city Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta shared details of the arrangements made for the Palkhi processions at a press conference on Monday. It is for the first time that the city police would be using drones for monitoring the security arrangements and bandobast on the routes of Palkhi processions. Also, bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) and dog squad have been deployed from carrying out checks at important locations.

Two additional commissioners, nine deputy commissioners, 19 assistant commissioners, 103 inspectors, 307 assistant and sub inspectors, 3,406 constabulary, one SRPF company, and 600 home guards would be deployed at different locations on the Palkhi routes to maintain law and order situation. Quick Response Team (QRT) will also be deployed at crowded and strategic locations.

Police have appealed to the citizens to follow the traffic diversions and vehicle parking restrictions done along the Palkhi routes.

Similarly, the Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune Rural police also chalked out plans comprising heavy police deployment for crowd control, traffic diversions and various security measures for the Pandharpur Wari.

On Tuesday, the traffic from Dehu Phata to Bhakti Shakti Chowk will be diverted via Dehu Phata to Katraj Bypass for heavy vehicles from 6 am. The traffic from Bhakti Shakti Chowk to Dehu Phata will be via Khandoba Mal, the officials said.

On June 24, Friday morning, the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi will resume its journey from Nivdunga Vitthal Mandir and take the route via Loni Kambhor, Yawat, Varwand, Undavadi, Baramati, Nimgaon Ketaki, Indapur and Akluj to reach Pandharpur, which is located in Solapur district. On the same day, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi will resume journey from Palkhi Vithoba Mandir and take the route via Saswad, Jejuri, Lonand, Phaltan, Natepute, Malshiras and Welapur to reach Pandharpur.

Pune Rural Police said adequate security measures and traffic diversions will be put in place on the routes. Meanwhile, the Pune Division of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Ltd has made provision for 530 additional buses for devotees during the Palkhi procession and also for a few days later when the devotees return to their native places.

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