Wednesday, Feb 27, 2002
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By K.T. Sangameswaran
Volunteers have been roped in for 250 of the identified shrines where guards need to be posted; however, even here the number seems to be inadequate.
Official sources say nearly 2,700 important temples have been provided with a protection force, consisting of 1,000 constables and 3,000 ex-servicemen and retired policemen, appointed for night guard duty and functioning under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Commissionerate. A Superintendent of Police and three inspectors have been posted for overall coordination and supervision of the functioning
of the Temple Protection Force, though the infrastructure provided leaves much to be desired. In view of funds shortage, faced by both temples and the Government, it was decided that a `volunteer force' consisting of locals be raised for guarding the remaining identified temples, which are not big but still vulnerable, possessing valuables, and which are visited by a large number of devotees. The anxiety has heightened following thefts reported of late.
As three volunteers are required for guarding a temple every night, it has been calculated that the minimum number needed for a month is 90.
The authorities expect more volunteers to join as they are required to do night duty only once a month.
In places where this number (90) is not available, at least 45 volunteers will have to be found for duty once a fornight, or a minimum of 21 persons for ensuring one's turn once a week. Besides this requirement, a reserve strength should be provided.
Initially, it is pointed out, in some villages none came forward, but in some others people were willing to work for a remuneration.
Following efforts by authorities , volunteers are now inclinded to join the force, albeit the number is not sufficient.
The Inspector-General of Police, G.Nanchil Kumaran, under whose jurisdiction the Idol Wing CID falls, has toured seven districts and held meetings with HR and CE authorities, range DIGs, SPs and temple officials on enrolment, duties of volunteers and supervision by officials.
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