Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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the negative side

Yesterday I had written about the positive side of the Mela. There is no doubt that the Mela administration have done a stupendous lot to put up such a gorgeous and grand show on a scale that is indeed  stunningly beautiful and deserves all praise. But that does not mean that defects and shortcomings were not there. And one hopes that the administration will take stock of the situation and order remedial action so that in the forthcoming bathing days the difficulties faced on Makar Sankranti Day are minimized. The  Chief Secretary has rushed to Allahabad and has even asked officers in charge of the incomplete schemes to stay on in the Sangam area so as to personally supervise the works.

As was apprehended, in spite of the best preparations by the district administration, the Mela area  was not free from thefts. It may be recalled that the authorities had made the tall claim that not a bird will be allowed to flap its wings, so tight was to be the security . If that be so, how is that that several saints have found their cash and valuables gone—stolen from their cars? This happened in the last Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh too. It is true that saints and sadhus should not have carried so much cash along. We have banking services. Allahabad is not a village . We do have the best of banking services. The saints too should have availed themselves of the local banking service by opening a temporary account. That way there would have been no risk to their assets. But incidents of thefts prove that anti-social elements are flourishing in the Mela area. We had warned that all that glitters is not gold and that many men in garb of workmen busy with various works, could actually be anti-social elements who had acquired a foothold because of their indispensability as good craftsmen. Fake sadhus, fake beggars and even fake cops could be moving around. Was anything done to look at things from this angle too? Obviously not or else such thefts may not have taken place. To say that   tight security has been there to nab terrorists and their accomplices but not catching thieves or preventing thefts would hardly be acceptable. The commission of thefts in Mela area  is a proof of the failure of the Mela police to keep criminals at bay.
Granted that specialized security against terrorists cannot be diverted to take care of petty or ordinary crime. But don’t we have a large number of policemen already there to take care of petty criminals? They could not.

Top bureaucracy proposes, constabulary  disposes!

There is a well known saying, ‘Man proposes, God disposes’.  However, in the Mela area, although top police officials issued orders to the field staff to be extra courteous to the people, treat them as friends, their orders were overruled by the cops posted at various points in the mela. A  lady journalist says that at one point she was prevented by a rude cop from going ahead. She even showed him the valid pass. Even then he kept on dilly dallying, telling her at one stage that he would not allow her to go ahead. It was at that stage that she rang up her senior colleague who gave a bit of his mind to the policeman on duty. He had to finally allow the lady to move ahead. It would seem that the higher authorities were receiving several complaints of this nature. No wonder the seniors once again issued strict orders to their subordinates to behave properly with the public , particularly with newsmen.
There were complaints that many long routes could have been shortened by allowing short-cuts especially when the crowds who came did not match with the expectations of the district authorities. If true, this was sheer red-tape enforced with a callousness and rudeness that could have easily been avoided. In some cases, where experienced cops were posted, this problem did not arise as these men in uniform were experienced enough to realize where pragmatism should prevail over red tape.
 At this juncture I may recall the warning I had issued several weeks ago—that busy as the police administration would be with the Mela area, it should not neglect the city. As is felt in many quarters, along with pilgrims, many petty criminals too must have arrived in the city. It could be some among them who are indulging in anti-social activities as also trying to loot, rape and plunder. Murders too have taken place in the city. With the population of the area having shot up, even temporarily though, shouldn’t we have also thought of taking better care of the city as well?
I may reiterate that at least during the Mela period, night patrolling should vigorously be imposed for the sake of preventing late-night crime. I need hardly add that pilgrims reaching the city by trains or buses late in the night sometimes prefer to reach the Mela area at once. They accept at face value the trapping flattery of the taxi drivers and others and engage one only to come to grief later in many cases. Will some social organisation set up Alert Cells in vulnerable areas to act as a warning to new visitors that they should not play into the hands of the crooks?

Elephant runs amuck, dangles pilgrim in its trunk


Elephants may appear to be harmless. But one should remember that even if they are tame and docile, one can never know when  a tusker may lose balance, that too in the crowded mela area. But this is exactly what happened in the Mela area the other day when a seemingly docile elephant lifted a young man in his trunk and started dangling the youth up and down till the elephant groom rushed to the scene and  somehow managed to pacify the elephant and rescue Ramchand of Faizabad from its grip. Ramchand fled for his life. But the Mela administration should not flee from its responsibility of ensuring that elephants, if allowed , are not  permitted to disturb peace.
It would be pertinent to recall that on Mauni Amavasya bathing day in the 1954 Kumbh, it was an elephant marching with Nagas seated on top, which lost its balance and started moving about in an aggressive mood.That spread panic. People started running about. There was stampede. And the rest of it followed.
The present incident did not take place on the bathing day. Even so, when the elephant was  swaying his trunk from this side to that with Ramchand in his grip  there was panic and this might have escalated had not the mahout come on time to save the young man from what could have been a certain catastrophe of the most frightening dimensions.
We must remember that animals, no matter how tamed and docile they are, can run amuck due to provocation of which humans may not be aware. We have seen bulls running amuck, lifting victims on their horns, throwing them on the ground and then goring them most furiously. Dogs turn rabid and when one least expects, they come and bite any one and every one. Human safety cannot be sacrificed for the sake of our love for animals. There are many people who will raise their voice against cruelty to animals. That is fair enough. But why do they forget that when animals turn violent they became a menace ; and if they are monkeys around, the less said the better.



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