A high alert has been sounded across Mumbai on suspicion that two foreign terrorists have arrived in the city prior to the festivities of Ganesh Chaturthi that began on Sept. 11.
In an emergency press conference, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Mr. Himanshu Roy disclosed that the two suspects may intend to cause disruption at crowded places and religious congregations. He also said that dedicated phone lines were installed at various locations to receive alerts.
Intelligence reports point to the key area of Lalbaug where the city's most popular Ganesh idol, Lalbaugcha Raja, has been installed. A massive security net has been thrown around Lalbaug, particularly at the idol, with over 1,500 policemen deployed around-the-clock. Personnel drawn from Central and State Reserve Police Force, and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad have been stationed at the location.
One of the most popular Hindu festivals, the 10-day celebration started in India on Sept. 11 this year. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and many other parts of India. It signifies the birth of the elephant-headed Hindu God, Ganesha.
As per the Hindu calendar, Ganesh Chaturthi is observed in the lunar month of Bhaadrapada starting on the fourth day and ending on the fourteenth day of the waxing moon period. A perishable image of Ganesha is installed for worship for 10 days and is submerged in waters on the last day.
The festival includes community participation in the form of literary discourses, dance dramas, poetry recitals, musical concerts, debates and so on. It often draws huge public gatherings.
In big cities like Mumbai, activities of this kind have often posed problems on several fronts. The huge crowds which throng the Ganesh idols in every other corner of the city, and the artificial arches and pandals (temporary structures) that crop up during this period choke up traffic flow and add to the congestion of the overpopulated city.
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