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mobile ban

‘ Undeclared ban on mobile phones added to panic’

Mr P.K.Agarwala, who has been attending the Kumbh Melas in Allahabad since 1941-42 says he was disappointed by some of the unusual steps taken by the officials. Visiting the Patrika office the other day he said, ‘the undeclared ban on the use of mobile phones on Mauni Amavasya day added panic among the local residents as well’. It seems that the mobile services had been blanked off so that mischief-

mongers may not create confusion by spreading explosive rumours. Officially this was denied but in practice what people found was that it was hardly possible to contact someone in the mela from the city . He cited his personal example. He says, ‘My son with wife and children was in the Mela on Thursday. About 4pm he left the Kumbh Village in Jhusi for Allahabad. For full 15 hours he was struggling to move forward on the wheels and managed to reach home at 7.20am on Friday. He said: ‘You can imagine the anxiety of old parents who kept on waiting and wondering why and where they were held up’. Mr Agarwal says: ‘Normally, through mobile one can know the latest position. But in extraordinary times, one needs to know about the whereabouts of one’s near and dear ones. You can imagine how much pain I underwent keeping awake in anxiety almost the whole night’.

There are many who believe that if at all the mobile phones were blanked off then that could have been done to check rumour-mongers from spreading panic through concocted stories. This could be a reason though Mr Agarwal suspects that this was a deliberate exercise to ensure that the people do not convey to the outside world the administrative lapses committed in the mela, some accidental, some deliberate.

Mr Agarwal has another suggestion to make. He says that even if 50 buses had been kept at a convenient spot, herded in groups under different coloured flags to identify their routes, then people would have rushed to them only. The crowd would have been divided into the number of flags visible from a distance. ‘Blue’ could mean buses going to aVaranasi, ‘Red’ could mean buses going to Lucknow and so on. This would have divided the public and they would have proceeded only towards the flag marking their destination and not simultaneously rushed together in all directions.’ He says, ‘On that day, people were not walking. They were being pushed forward by the people behind’

PK concluded: ’The time has come for the Supreme Court and High Courts to take de-facto cognizance of this vital matter and do something’ He also suggests that some young man must file a PIL.

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