Sunday, February 25, 2018
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IG Dev kumar

At least three leading dailies say that one crore people took a dip in the holy waters of the Sangam on the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amavasya, the biggest bathing day of the month-long Magh Mela.  However, different scribes have mentioned    different figures ranging between  between 70 lakhs and one crore.

  But whether 70 or 80 lakh people came or one crore, the crowds were  mammoth. These days it is difficult to control  even 10 persons. That is why Section 144 has to be imposed. And of late we have seen police men being beaten up badly or  stoned and kicked by an angry mob, whatever be the reasons. Such incidents have tended to lower the morale of the cops and also erode the confidence of the people in the ability of the police to deliver the goods, But the successful and peaceful conclusion of the Mauni bath shows that where there is will there  will always be a way. And this will and determination can be strengthened only if senior cops participate in the important events that need to be watched  minutely. If this is not done then there is always the risk of something  going wrong somewhere. And that can lead to a chain reaction which would be sufficient to create panic that, on such occasions, aggravates the situation.
And one of the reasons why the Mela police were on their toes was the personal presence of IG(Zone) A.Antony Devkumar in the Mela the whole night. He was seen personally going around to scrutinise the arrangements and at the same time inquiring from the cops on duty whether all was well with them too. Later a Home Guard told a scribe: ‘I was taken aback to see the IG Sahib personally going around the Mela ‘. The Home Guard said. ‘The IG Sa’ab personally asked me:  “Have you  been served any meals?”. When I replied in the affirmative, he asked me:”Have you had a full meal. What all did you get to eat?”. I replied:”Sir, I had my full. One Puri was even left over. In the food packet given to us there were eight puris, vegetables, achaar and a laddu”.’  The IG knew what he wanted to know—that food items in full were served and none pilfered on way!
The Home Guards and constables were very happy and enthused by the IG’s  concern for them, something unheard of in recent times. Such gestures do act as a big morale booster. But if you read between the lines, you will find that the IG, on the one hand inspected  different spots to see whether the men on duty were there and were alert and on the other hand inquired from them, without making it apparent though, as to whether they indeed had received the food packets as planned.This once again shows that the IG personally finds out whether important orders are being carried out or not. If the Home Guard had told them, ‘Sir we have just received two Puris. How can we be expected to give forth our best on a hungry stomach’ then that would have indicated to  the IG that middlemen were defrauding the department and derailing their efforts. 

I recall the 1954 Kumbh. At that time we had an Englishman as the DIG (top post in the city then), Mr W.A.C.Pearce.  That was the year when the massive stampede occurred. Crowds were not anticipated because it was the first Kumbh Mela after independence and the  previous  one, presumably in 1942, might not have attracted so many pilgrims because of political unrest and lack of so many trains. Why I am mentioning the name of Mr Pearce is because he was staying in Barnetts and knew my father personally. He was at the Mela before the stampede occurred. He presumed that ladies in our family too may be going there for a bath. So he rang up my father from the Mela and told him: ‘Don’t send your wife and children to the Mela. The crowds are unmanageable’. Accordingly my father stopped my mother and others from going to the Kumbh Mela. And we narrowly escaped the disaster

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