Senior LIC officer(retired) S.M.H.Rizvi was a 15-year old young scout in 1954, studying in Yaadgar-e-Hussaini School when he attended a state-level camp organized in the Kumbh Mela by the All-India Boy Scouts’ Association, UP, from 31st January to 6th February 1954.
His team was very much present in the Mela, very close to the site of the tragedy, when that ghastly stampede occurred. He can’t forget that horrifying scene when he saw corpses piled up all over. It was a ‘Lashon ka dher” which they countenanced leaving an indelible imprint on the minds of the young adolescents.
Mr Rizvi told us the other day: ‘Our social-service camp was located on Triveni Road just after the Railway crossing’. There were about 15 students from his school who were permanently camping there and actively participating in social work. The camp was about 100 metres away from the Akbar-built main Bundh. “We were deployed just below the Bundh to serve the visiting pilgrims and act as their guides wherever required”, he said, adding: “Our team of scouts was near the Barre Hanumanaji’s temple when the devastating tragedy occurred about 100 metres on the northern side from the spot where we scouts were on duty and had formed a human chain down the Bundh ‘.
Mr Rizvi told the Patrika: ‘ We were young kids who had hardly ever seen any tragedy from such close quarters. You can imagine how we felt when bodies of the dead were dumped in our camp, piled up one on top of the other. That tragic scene still haunts me.” However, at that moment it was not the shock but the desire to help the survivors which dominated their minds and hearts and, unmindful of the fear of what could have happened to them had they too been caught in the stampede, these teenager scouts jumped into the rescue work. They were stunned but, undeterred by the tragedy, plunged headlong into the relief operations.