Dheeraj Bengrut(Pune Mirror): Special team of 101 Nashik cops will go undercover as sadhus to keep an eye on untoward elements during gargantuan Kumbh Mela.The cops have been given special training on how to live like sadhus in akhadas or even in public areas. Their entire look has been drastically altered — they will be attired in beards and saffron robes
(PIC FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES)
As the colourful, crowded, cacophonous, threemonth- long Kumbh Mela readies for its grand inauguration on July 14, hordes of pilgrims and sadhus from all over the country have already begun filling up the bylanes of Nashik and Trimbakeshwar.
At the moment, Maharashtra police is already gathering to ensure top security for the public during the gargantuan holy fest and its three Shaahi Snaans (holy baths), which will attract crowds of more than one crore people from all over India and the world.
Interestingly, this time, undercover men in khaki from local police will unassumingly be walking shoulder-to-shoulder and even co-habiting with a host of holy men from various sects and beliefs and their real job will be keeping an eye on trouble without alerting antisocial elements to their presence.
Nashik police formed this specially- trained underground squad of 101 policemen, other than its regular police force of 15,000, considering the strong need to prevent a variety of threats to the Kumbh Mela. Members of this squad have been handpicked from the department to go 'underground', dressed up in the sadhu avatar.
A senior officer of Nashik police told Mirror on condition of anonymity, "We formed the team of 101 select policemen a couple of months ago. The Nashik Kumbh Mela is a mega event — the responsibility of public security on police is tremendous. To keep track of every micro detail amongst the general public, we thought it best to take on this guise."
He added, "The policemen have been given special training on how to live like sadhus in the akhadas or even in public areas. Their entire look has been drastically altered — they will be attired in beards and saffron robes, and carry the necessary accoutrements. They have also been taught the daily rituals of sadhus and how to live like them. Their main duty is to be alert and get all the necessary information from public areas during the mela."
Nashik police commissioner S Jaggannathan only offered, "This squad has been formed for security reasons — we cannot share any more details about it."
Besides police, the Kumbh Mela also witnesses the presence of paramilitary forces including the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for crowd management. Nashik police have also involved 7,000 extra volunteers from various NGOs to assist them.