As Kanwar Yatra reaches its peak, police in parts of western Uttar Pradesh have donned the guise of Kanwariyas to join the processions to rein in law and order, according to officials. Wearing saffron t-shirts with shorts or track pants, hundreds of police personnel in Muzaffarnagar have joined other ‘Bhole’ – in a way – becoming fake Kanwariyas, as the Kanwariyas are fondly called, the officials said.

During the Kanwar Yatra, devotees of Lord Shiva, especially in north India, walk on foot to Haridwar, Gaumukh, etc in Uttarakhand to fetch the water of Ganga River in the auspicious Hindu month of Shravan. They then offer the holy water to Lord Shiva back home. Security measures were stepped up in the district with thousands of police personnel on duty, even as drones were deployed for aerial monitoring and surveillance for law and order, a senior official said.

“Muzaffarnagar on the UP-Uttarakhand border is a key district for the annual pilgrimage of ‘Shivbhakts’ as any pilgrim on the Yatra to Uttarakhand would have to necessarily cross through it. The district has around 50 km of road stretches that form the Kanwar routes,” the official told PTI. After bringing ?Gangajal’ from Uttarakhand, the Kanwariyas reach Muzaffarnagar and then split ways to Meerut, Shamli, etc while the locals move to Shiv Chowk, among other prominent temples in Muzaffarnagar, the official said.

“Security measures have been stepped up. Besides the normal deployment, around 400-500 police personnel in the clothing of Kanwariyas are taking part in the procession for monitoring law and order situation,” the official said, requesting anonymity. The official said the deployment of police in the guise of “Bholes” has been a routine practice for the past several years.

The undercover personnel stay within

the jurisdiction of the district as they mix with Kanwariyas during their foot marches, the official said.”Around 750 CCTV cameras were placed on various strategic locations, drones deployed for monitoring crowd build up at key junctures and markets. The CCTV cameras are IP-controlled, which can be accessed by authorised persons from remote locations over mobile phones also,” the official said.

When contacted, Muzaffarnagar Senior Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal said lakhs of pilgrims pass through the district during the Kanwar Yatra and adequate security measures have been put in place. “Police personnel have been deployed along the Kanwar routes in large numbers and they have been instructed to ensure hassle-free movement of Kanwariyas,” Jaiswal told PTI.

“The instructions of the state government are being followed to make sure the law and order situation remains in control and strict action is taken against any person intending to brew trouble,” the IPS officer said.

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