Pune: In a socially pro-active initiative Pune Police, confronted with spectre of terrorist violence, roped in about 5,000 college students to aid them in maintaining law and order during the ten-day Ganesh festival which concluded on Saturday.

Called "Police Mitra", the young boys and girls kept a constant vigil during heavy crowding at thousands of Sarvajanik Ganesh mandals dotting the city after undergoing training at a ten day camp prior to Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations that commenced on September 19.

Sporting red T-shirts provided by the authorities as a mark of identification, the volunteers who joined hands with the men in uniform to monitor surging crowds turning out every day to enjoy tableaux at the Ganesh pandals, went about their assigned duties with a youthful exuberance keeping a watchful eye on suspicious objects as well as on eve teasers.

Pune Police commissioner Gulabrao Pol said, "The student cops will be encouraged to spread public awareness about possible threats even after the Ganesh celebrations are over."

Coming as it did, the Ganesh festival this year was ominously preceded by the August 1 serial bomb explosions on the arterial JM road, rattling the police force still smarting under the German bakery terrorist attack in the city two years back.

Faced with a continuing man power shortage and weighed down by enhanced security concerns, police authorities here toyed with the idea of recruiting social minded volunteers who were drawn from about 100 colleges in the city.

Organized in batches of 500, the 'Police Mitras' were imparted training in bandobust duty and the security steps to be taken in a possible scenario of a terrorist attack by defence and security experts and senior cops at Shivajinagar police headquarters here.

Most of the 5000 students, who teamed up with police to meet any exigency, were participants in the National Service Scheme (NSS) in their respective colleges, a police spokesman said.

The training module focused on basic information on different types of terror strikes and the drill to keep vigil on large crowds, he added.


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