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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightCops in priests’...

Cops in priests’ attire at Kashi temple, Akhilesh Yadav raises security concerns

Cops in priests’ attire at Kashi temple, Akhilesh Yadav raises security concerns

The decision by Varanasi police to deploy officers dressed as priests at the Kashi Vishwanath temple has drawn criticism from Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, expressing concerns over security risks posed by allowing officers to dress in attire other than their uniforms.

"According to which 'police manual' is it correct for policemen to be dressed as priests? Those who give such orders should be suspended. If tomorrow any 'thag' (fraudster) takes advantage of this and loots the innocent public, then what will the UP government and administration answer? Condemnable!" Yadav wrote on X.

However, the Varanasi police defended the idea coining it as a bid to foster a more welcoming atmosphere at one of India's most revered places of worship.

Male personnel, adorned in the traditional dhoti-kurta attire and sporting tilak on their foreheads like temple priests, have been stationed at each of the temple's four gates leading to the sanctum sanctorum.

Accompanying them are female police personnel in khaki uniforms, stationed around 15 meters from the temple's gates to monitor activities. The personnel rotation ensures a fresh presence and adherence to a strict no-touch policy.

These initiatives, spearheaded by Varanasi Police Commissioner Mohit Agarwal, aim to enhance the overall visitor experience and dispel any negative perceptions associated with police presence.

The strategy initially tested on an experimental basis in 2018, has been reintroduced after careful consideration. Lengthy queues have posed a challenge, often leading to agitation among devotees. To address this, the deployed policemen are instructed to exhibit a friendly demeanour, emulating the positive rapport often associated with temple priests.

Agarwal emphasized the use of ropes over physical intervention to guide devotees inside the temple, ensuring minimal disruption to queues. "Officers will refrain from physically relocating devotees or disrupting queues for VIP movements," he stated, underlining the commitment to maintaining order while respecting devotees' sentiments.

Approximately 800 police personnel of various ranks are stationed at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple on a rotational basis, with around 250 deployed at any given time. The temple, which attracts approximately five lakh devotees daily, remains a focal point of spiritual reverence and cultural heritage in Varanasi.

As the initiatives undergo a 15-day trial period, authorities are evaluating their effectiveness and addressing any concerns raised.

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