The district police have informed the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that the ban on vehicle movement in the three car streets around Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram would continue as the iconic shrine still faced a terror threat.
Responding to a recent court order on a petition filed by T. Jayachandran, a devotee from Chidambaram in Cuddalore district, Superintendent of Police N. Manivannan informed the court that the ban was imposed in August 2013 purely on security point of view and to ensure that the pilgrims offered worship without any hassle.
On the petitioner’s allegation that the local police, demanded bribe from the pilgrims, taking advantage of the ban, the SP said he had not received any such complaint. He said action would be taken if pilgrims lodged any such complaint with him or the DSP posted in Rameswaram.
After the local people staged protests against the ban on vehicle movement in the car streets, the police reviewed the security arrangements and decided to continue the ban following specific inputs from Intelligence Bureau that the temple could be one of the targets of terror attack, he said.
However, addressing the grievances of the shopkeepers and those residing in the area, the police issued passes and allowed them to use vehicles. Autorickshaws and ambulances were allowed in cases of emergency, the SP said, adding the ‘free zone’ facility in the three car streets were widely welcomed by the pilgrims.
About 10,000 pilgrims visited the temple every day and they could offer worship freely now. The free zone also helped the temple authorities carry out processions of the deities during festivals without any hindrance, Mr. Manivannan said.
The temple and municipal authorities operated battery car service for the benefit of aged pilgrims, he said.
As part of the enhanced security, the police were making round-the-clock patrolling, under the direct supervision of the DSP. A 40-member Tamil Nadu Special Police company provided additional security and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad allowed the pilgrims only after a thorough frisking at all entry points, he said.