Thursday, January 18, 2018
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kumbh 19 dec

It is heartening to see that both the Mela administration and the district authorities are leaving no stone unturned to make the best-possible arrangements for the forthcoming Mahakumbh, coming after 144 years. As stated already, foolproof security, accompanied by top-class disaster management under experts are among the various steps taken, including massive electrification backed by standby power generators which will ensure uninterrupted lighting arrangements , especially at night .

But what if there is sudden rain, hail-storm accompanied by lashing winds? This may appear to be a rare occurrence. But if that happens, there is bound to be utter confusion accompanied by panic which may forces the pilgrims, moving in an orderly manner, to run helter-skelter . If this happens then the roads, following the shower, will become slippery and muddy . And this could be an invitation to disaster. This is because if just one person was to slip then the pilgrims fleeing in panic will not wait for him or her to get up. In order to save their own lives, people will trample on those who have fallen. More will fall; more will be trampled. How will the challenges from the vagaries of the weather be encountered in such a situation? I may mention that when the stampede occurred in 1954, the ground had become slippery following rain and people became panicky when they saw a galloping procession going out of control.
How will the situation be met in case there are torrential rains on one of the top bathing days?
Assuming that rescue teams will be there to help the victims, save others and shift them to safer places. But where are those places ? One cannot shift hundreds of pilgrims, drenched in rain, to mere safety . They will have to be given food and shelter .In the past the buildings and compounds of some schools in neighbourhood had been taken over by the administration to accommodate pilgrims in need if not distress. Has this been done for the Mahakumbh?
There was a report that parking place has been set up to accommodate lakhs of vehicles including thousands of buses. If these buses are present when the rain havoc takes place, some pilgrims should be accommodated in these buses not for travelling homewards but for taking shelter from hail storm. But to reach the buses may not be easy in the case of confusion. Hospital arrangements on the ground have been made. The problem will be of carrying the victims to the healing centres. Urgent cases might be requiring extraordinary treatment for which they will have to be shifted to city hospitals. It is here that the emergency helicopter service could turn out to be a boon.

‘Red Light’ abductors in the Mela

At the same time, it is during a state of utter confusion caused by inclement weather that anti-social elements have a fine time. Some of the crooks could be pimps from the Red Light areas of not just Allahabad but of other cities too and who could be prowling around waiting for an opportunity to strike. When they find a boy or a girl stranded and lost, they approach them as friends and show every sympathy. The boys are drugged and dispatched to the beggar running racket, where their eye might be gorged out(and sold for big amount of money to those hunting for these for eye plantation among the blind). They may even take out hot tea from their flasks and serve it to the lost girl. Who knows, the tea could be mixed with sedative and when the girl wakes up, she finds herself in a brothel with queues of human vultures waiting for their turn to seduce her. I may warn that such incidents have happened in the past. In olden days they would become friendly and persuade the girls to go with them as they would take them to their guardians. These gangs used to have women members too who took care of the girls with all the maternal instincts in full display to hoodwink the victims. The ‘Zeher Khurans’ have entered the picture now.

One might say how can the poison peddlers move out with a girl in their arms. The answer is: They have women members too in the gang.One of them will lift the girl or sit with her. She will say that her child has fallen ill. Who will suspect her?
I would therefore suggest that loudspeakers should go on announcing repeatedly on their network, asking the people to beware of poison peddlers and not to take anything eatable from a stranger. Real and genuine Sadhus are welcome. But there is every possibility of fake saints entering the picture and fooling the gullible by predicting a rosy future for them but saying at the same time that there were some hurdles in the horoscope which would need to be eliminated through especial type of ceremonies and pujas that would be required to enable the person to tide over the danger posed by the evil stars.

Will VVIPs cause confusion ?

This is a question that I posed to our reader Shamsher Singh who rang me up the other day. He replied, ‘No, they should come and should be forced to take a dip for two reasons, especially if they are ministers and MLAs. One reason is that it is they who need to wash off the sins the most. It is they who are involved in Ghotalas, scams and scandals. Those who have crossed 80 and are caught on TV camera embraced by pretty girls, need salvation from their acts of omission and commission.’ I told him that not all are like that. He agreed but said he was saying that for only those who have been involved in such scandals. ‘If you want a list, contact Kejriwal’ he said, adding, ‘provided by now, having formed a political party, he too has not become one of them’. He said that the second reason is: they must see for themselves the state of the water here. They have not stopped the tanneries from functioning and it is only towards the end that they are trying to take some cosmetic steps—maybe temporarily to hoodwink the people. Let them swallow some dirty water. Then they will realize how neglectful they have been .’

I said, ‘But in the past it has been suggested that VVIPs should not come and that the 1954 Kumbh tragedy might not have occurred if President Rajendra Prasad and others had not come’. He said: ‘That was over 50 years ago. Now technology has advanced. They may land there by helicopter , have a dip and go back. But they won’t come.
Well, that was that. But movement to and fro should be better this time , thanks to the elaborate arrangements being made. Let us hope that all will be well in the long run.

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