Managing a daily crowd of 90,000 individuals poses no challenge for the police. The issue of the crowd becoming unruly at Sabarimala is attributed to the lack of experience among the law enforcement officers. However, experts in police traffic control ensure the safety of the Nawa Kerala Yatra.
Pilgrims expressed their frustration with the Kerala Police and the Travancore Devaswom Board when they were compelled to endure over 12 hours of waiting in queues at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
Even with the decision to cap virtual queue bookings at 80,000 per day, the anticipated outcomes have not materialized. Devotees from both the state and neighboring states continue to stand in lengthy queues, eager for their turn for darshan.
During the pilgrimage season, which attracted up to 90,000 people daily, the police personnel stationed at the Devaswom Board in Sabarimala had extensive experience managing the crowd even before the virtual queue booking system was implemented. The queue used to extend up to six kilometers. The current situation has stretched the darshan (sighting of the deity) time and virtual queue booking is an attempt to regulate the flow. The police personnel stationed in Devaswom Board are well-versed in crowd management and ensure the security of the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
The uniqueness of the Sabarimala Devaswom Board lies in its ability to handle the crowd more efficiently. During the initial weeks of December, when the flow of pilgrims is higher, the police officers, including those with expertise in managing crowds and officials with knowledge in virtual queue booking, were present at Devaswom Board to ensure the safety of the devotees.
The virtual queue booking system used to handle around 90,000 pilgrims daily. The length of the queue and the waiting time for darshan were considerable. However, due to the meticulous planning and coordination by the police personnel, the process was relatively smooth. Even though the police force at Devaswom Board contributes significantly to maintaining order, challenges still arise. The police stationed at Pampa and those managing the security around the temple play a crucial role in crowd control.
Despite the efforts, there were instances where pilgrims faced difficulties due to the sheer volume of people. The police officers are responsible for maintaining order both at the base camp and along the traditional forest routes. The virtual queue system and the queue at Pampa were put in place to prevent chaos and ensure a systematic flow of devotees.
The Devaswom Board has deployed officers, inspectors, and other officials to monitor and regulate the pilgrims, especially during peak hours. Controlling the crowd, particularly during peak pilgrimage days, remains a challenge, and there are ongoing efforts to enhance the efficiency of the system. The initial days might be challenging, but with time, the situation is expected to improve.
In collaboration with the Kerala government, the police force, along with the Ministry, has prioritized security to bring stability to the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The expertise of seasoned officers and ministers has been pivotal in maintaining order and ensuring the safety of devotees. The security personnel are actively involved in managing the crowd in Pampa and various access points. Despite the challenges, the authorities are committed to creating a secure and smooth experience for pilgrims, and adjustments will be made as needed.