Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad: 1 dead, 8 injured as balcony collapses
The 146th edition of the annual Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra or chariot procession passed off peacefully in Ahmedabad on Tuesday (June 20) with lakhs of devotees thronging the streets and police maintaining a tight vigil.
However, in an unfortunate incident, a man died and eight others were injured when the balcony of a house along the procession route collapsed.
When the Raths or chariots were returning to the temple, the one carrying Lord Balbhadra or Balram suffered a snag in Ghee Kanta area, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Komal Vyas.
“While the chariots of Lord Jagannath and sister Subhadra reached the temple by 8:30 pm, the third chariot (of Balbhadra) reached a little late because it malfunctioned in Ghee Kanta area. The issue was resolved quickly by welding the broken part,” said Vyas.
The three chariots started their journey around 7.30 in the morning down the 18-km route after Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel performed ‘Pahind Vidhi’, a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the Raths with a golden broom, at the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area.
The procession is taken out every year on Ashadhi Bij, the second day of the Ashad month of Hindu calendar. Before the deities were placed on the chariots, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited the temple around 4 am and took part in the ‘Mangla Aarti’ ritual.
VIDEO | Eight people were injured after the balcony of a two-storeyed building collapsed during the Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Dariyapur area of Ahmedabad. pic.twitter.com/7QEE2RZliK
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 20, 2023
The procession which stretched up to 1.5 km comprised nearly 15 decorated elephants, 100 trucks with tableaux, around 30 religious congregations and Akharas and around 20 singing troupes followed by three chariots.
It moved through some communally sensitive areas like Jamalpur, Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur and finally came back to the temple late in the evening after almost 12 hours.
Members of the Muslim community welcomed the chariots in Muslim-dominated areas with garlands and other offerings.
As a part of tradition, chief priest of the Jagannath temple Mahant Dilipdasji Maharaj who travels with the procession in an open jeep was offered a shawl and garland in Dariyapur area by local Muslim leaders including Rafiq Nagriwala.
The priest set free white pigeons as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood.
Communal harmony was also on display when the Mahant, whose vehicle was the last in the procession, reached Shahpur area during the return journey. At Rangila Chowky in Shahpur, local Muslims led by former MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh garlanded Dilipdasji and offered a memento.
A tableau featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s G20 presidency caught everyone’s attention. Mounted on a truck, it had life-size cut-outs of Modi shaking hands with various heads of state including UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
Elaborate security arrangements had been made by police throughout the Yatra route.
In a first for the Rath Yatra, police used 3D mapping technology to monitor the entire route and also deployed anti-drone technology to ensure no unauthorised drones were used during the event, a senior official said.
More than 26,000 personnel of the city police, Home Guards, State Reserve Police and paramilitary forces were deployed at strategic locations along the 18-km Yatra route.
Security personnel was collectively wearing 2,322 body cameras. Twenty-five vehicles with CCTVs and a GPS system were used to keep a close watch on the entire procession, officials said, adding that as many as 94 CCTV cameras installed across 45 sensitive locations provided live feed.
When the procession was returning after taking a break in Saraspur, the balcony of a two-storey dilapidated house collapsed in Dariyapur area.
While some of the injured were standing on the second-storey balcony watching the chariot procession, some were standing underneath, said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kanan Desai, adding that a man named Mehul Panchal (36) died while eight others were injured.