Pilgrim centres are notorious for their pickpockets and chain snatchers. But with the help of reformed convicts, police in Andhra Pradesh are planning to take on these criminals.
The AP police is taking an extra step to make darshan at pilgrim centres safe. The famous Krishna Pushkaram, which will be held in Vijayawada, will have not just CCTVs and drones keeping watch over the pilgrims, but also ex-convicts who have mend their ways. The cops have roped in ex-convicts to identify people who behave suspiciously. They will identify those with nimble fingers and alert the police. This will hopefully help the thousands of pilgrims to go back home with their pockets and purses intact. The police had experimented this method during the Godavari Pushkaralu.
Krishna Pushkaram is celebrated once in 12 years and is a major festival in Andhra Pradesh. It lasts for 12 days and draws over 30 million pilgrims, like it did last time in August 2004. This time round, the Krishna Pushkaram will be celebrated between August 12 and 23 and will hopefully be safe from chain snatching and purse lifting.
The police are already prepared and as a precautionary measure have identified 28,000 habitual offenders and 2.83 lakh occasional offenders who have committed crime at least once. If any of these criminals go missing from their homes during the 12 days of Krishna Pushkarams, the police will be alerted.
Stuartpuram, which is a small village near Guntur, is notorious for its pickpockets. In fact, it is said that children are taught this 'art' as they grow up. Though, in the earlier days, they targeted trains in that region, the pickpockets expanded their region and are now common presence at all festivities. With the police keeping a watch, this time, it might be difficult for them to target anyone.
Though the state is facing a severe cash crunch, the TDP government has earmarked Rs 1,080 crore for the festival. And, all precautions are being taken to see that the Godavari Pushkaralu debacle does not repeat here. One person was killed and several injured during a stampede on day one of the holy festival. AP chief minister Chandrababu Naidu was blamed as he was present in that particular ghat. But Naidu remained in Rajahmundry for the following days and saw to it that nothing untoward happened again.