PUNE: An elaborate security audit of 59 mosques and 22 madrassas in the Muslim-dominated Kondhwa area of the city was started by the Pune police after the arrest of a right-wing activist from Nalasopara in Palghar district.
Bomb-making material, including detonators and explosive powder, were seized from him.

Police commissioner K Venkatesham told TOI, “The exercise is part of a routine check at the local level. As of now, I am not aware of any intelligence input (in relation to potential threat to such establishments either in Kondhwa or other parts of the city).”

The exercise also comes ahead of Bakri Eid which falls on August 22. The police have instructed all mosques and madrassas to install CCTV cameras for better surveillance, appoint volunteers for managing the crowd during Eid, check visitors’ bags, set up metal detectors, have their parking lots at a distance away from their establishments and be alert about abandoned vehicles and articles.

The establishments have also been advised to get the abandoned vehicles removed by the owners or report them to the police for towing.

Pune police issue norms for security audit of all mosques in Kondhwa

Senior inspector Milind Gaikwad of the Kondhwa police station said, “We have taken this initiative on our own as a first-of-its-kind exercise to protect these establishments, the local residents and for maintaining harmony.”

Gaikwad said they have started visiting masjids and madrassas to look at the security arrangements they have.

“We have issued a series of instructions relating to crowd management and protection of property particulary during the weekly prayers on Fridays and about Bakri Id celebrations.”

The authorities at the mosques and madrassas have been told to put up a notice or a sticker on such vehicles appealing to their owners to remove the same within two or three days. “If the vehicle is still not removed, they should the local police station for towing the vehicle away to the dump yard,” he said.

They must keep watch on outsiders or strangers who visit their establishments, he added.

Another police officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “The audit is critical given the seizure of the explosive material in Nalasopara and previous blasts in mosques at Malegaon and in Hyderabad.”

Kari Mohammad Idris, who runs Jamaitus Salehat madrassa for 500 girls in Kondhwa, said, “We deeply favour the security audit started by the police. We have been demanding that the police conduct such an exercise for a long time. Normally, the police provides security for Friday prayers and special occasions like Eid but it is not possible round-the-year. Hence, we want masjids and madrassas set up security surveillance of their own.”

Idris said the local residents were known to them but some who occasionally visit their establishments were outsiders. “It has come up in the audit so far that the CCTVs at certain establishments were not working properly and instructions have been issued to repair them in the next few days,” he said.

Kondhwa is spread over 32sq km area on the eastern parts of Pune. It accounts for 3.5 lakh of the total 6.5 lakh Muslims in the city.

The recent merger of villages in the fringe areas of Pune has expanded the total area and population, the Pune police said. The bulk of Muslim residents here are settlers from outside such as and Bihar.
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