Agencies, Kumbhnagar Around 10 million people took a dip in holy waters of the Sangam on the auspicious occasion of Maghi Purnima here today. The bathing is still continuing on a peaceful note and till 1600 hrs around 9.2 million pilgrims have taken a dip in the Sangam, said Allahabd Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi told mediapersons here while quoting police control room.
He said the turnout of pilgrims during the Maghi Purnima could cross 10 million as people are still coming to the sangam. Security at the Mela area had been tightened following the twin blasts in Hyderabad recently during the Maghi Purnima, the fifth main bathing festival of ongoing Mahakumbh and also the end of the ritual of the month-long religious festivity for one million Kalpawasis staying on the riverbed from Paush Purnima on January 27. Also, the entry of vehicles inside the Mela area was banned since yesterday and all provisions made for free movement.
Naga Sadhus could not be seen there as all the 13 Akharas have left the Mela area after completion of the three Shahi Snan the last one on February 15, Basant Panchami. Tragedy struck in this Maha Kumbh on the main bathing day of Mauni Amavasya when 37 pilgrims were crushed to death in a stampede at Allahabad railway station on February 10. Though the turnout on the Mauni Amavasya was around 30 million, it dipped to just 8 million on Basant Panchami, it again rose today.
The Divisional Commissioner claimed that during the entire Kumbh Mela over 500 foreigners visited the area, including around 1100 from the foreign media. Before sunrise, the periphery of the Sangam was sparkling with lights of varied hues while scores of boats carried people to the 22 ghats covering 3 km— an enchanting scene. On the bathing ghats adjacent to the Sangam, several lakh pilgrims were washing off their ‘sins’ by taking holy dips since last night. UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) arranged plying of 4,000 buses along with 65 special trains which will depart from various stations and points in Allahabad district to take back the pilgrims to their destination.
The temporary bus stations were set up at Jhansi, Naini and civil lines for departure of the buses while the trains will leave from railway stations of Naini, Prayag and Allahabad. More than 30 million devotees had turned out on Mauni Amavsya and the large number could not be handled by the mela administration due to less number of trains and buses. The adjacent districts of Pratapgarh, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Kaushambi and Fatehpur have also been put on the alert in case of any inordinate crowd influx being noticed there.
The crowd access control plans, which had gone awry on February 10 leading to a stampede at Allahabad railway station, were thoroughly taken care off as all the precautionary measures were in the place this big event, Mr Chaturvedi said. Commandos of the Anti-Terrorist Squad(ATS) and Central forces continued patrolling near the ghats. Around 50,000 security personnel have been deployed in the mela area to regulate the ever burgeoning crowds. The 55-day Kumbh which started on January 14 will end on March 10 after Maha Shivratri.