Thursday, January 18, 2018
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heavy rain kumbh

Call it bad stars or bad management the end result was the same-- Total chaos. Heavy rain left all stunned, baffled if not immobilised.  But readers will bear testimony to the fact that in this very column on several occasions I had warned of the possibility of heavy showers creating problems for the pilgrims and suggesting that schools should be closed and their buildings requisitioned to accommodate rain victims. I had also mentioned that the authorities should ensure the school authorities that they will compensate them for any wear and tear that might be caused due to the influx of capacity crowd of shelter seekers. Steps in this connection were taken only after the Railway stampede and that too after the weathermen had predicted a heavy rainfall on Basant Panchmi.

A reader says that anything which has a bad beginning cannot hope for a good ending.  He says that the Mela began on a jarring note. First there were disputes over land allotment. Then controversy arose over the real and fake Shankaracharyas. Annoyed by this Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand and some others left the mela. Those who were out to protect ‘dharma’ were now challenging one another. As a TV saint thundered on Saturday afternoon, ‘How can the seers, who are asking the countrymen to maintain unity prove effective if they themselves are attacking one another?’

The controversies about land-allotments and other issues could easily have been resolved earlier. That this could not be done  did not speak highly of the managerial skill of those entrusted with the task of  organizing the show. Within a month 48 persons have died, over 150 have been injured to say nothing of the unclaimed bodies. You may delink the platform deaths from the Mela arrangements. But the lack of coordination must have been there. That is why orderly arrangements could not be made for the departure of the pilgrims from the Mela to the stations. But when people will recall the 2013 Mahakumbh, the stampede deaths will certainly  form a part of the bitter memories.The 1954 Kumbh is remembered not for the salvation that it might have provided to those who took the dip but for hundreds of those who died in one of the biggest stampedes. But the 2013 Mahakumbh has many, many pleasant memories associated with it too. These will outnumber the negative side. 


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