It was indeed a sad and horrible tragedy which took place on the railing leading to railway platform No. 6 at Allahabad Junction. Almost 37 people officially declared dead, God knows how many missing, and dozens of them injured. The most auspicious Mauni Amavasya bathing day on 10th of Feburary 2013, although began well, but ended terribly when there was a stampede leading to the stairs of the Platform No. 6 as soon as a Mela special train came in. The huge rush of people who had been allowed to enter the platform without any checks and balances was too much for the limited capacity of the railway platform where the Mela special was scheduled to arrive. All of a sudden there was stampede and thereafter there was complete mayhem on the entire narrow steps leading to the platform. Scores of people tumbled on top of each other, the women, children and elderly were the worst hit. Most of them succumbed to their injuries, and those who survived, didn't get medical attention on time.
Their only fault, they visited the MahaKumbh, the ultimate place where a devout Hindu believes they can get Moksha. The holy city of Triveni where the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati meet at the Sangam, is the confluence of scores of pilgrims from all over the globe. The Magh Mela which is an annual affair gives the district administration ample practice to plan out more bigger things like ArdhKumbha - every six years, and MahaKumbha - once in 12 years.
2013 is one such year where the MahaKumbha is being held after 12 long years. Planning for this event must have started almost 2 years back, funds must have been allocated almost a year back. Massive funds must have been released by the Centre for the various projects or the temporary township which was to come up on the banks of the rivers for this most auspicious occasion.
Besides catering for the VVIP's and the numerous religious saints congregating in their tents built specially for them, it is the common people, the village folk, the elderly, both men and women, small children, people from other far away States who form the bulk of the floating population who converge on the banks of the Sangam. They do this just to have a dip in the holy rivers, to keep their faith alive, to keep the Hindu tradition alive which believes that Ganga is their Maa.
Doesn't this huge population which comes for salvation deserve this much facilitation from the rulers who run the State and control the city of Allahabad that they should bathe in peace and be able to go back in one piece?
Don't they deserve proper infrastructure? Some responsible people to guide them, from the time they alight in Allahabad, till the time they leave safely? Shravan Kumar carried his aged parents in two baskets and made them visit the holy places, can't we expect the powers to be in Allahabad to act like Shrawan Kumar for these two holy months of January and Feburary during the MahaKumbh? Is it asking for too much?
No, I don't think so. The district administration, the police of Allahabad should realize that they owe a solemn duty towards each of these poor pilgrims who come to bathe. This will be the biggest salvation they can hope to achieve if they manage to guide them safely in their quest for moksha. Forget your other problems, the routine VIP duties, taking your friends and relatives to the Mela area in ambulances, and Govt vehicles. Just for once guide these innumerable villagers who come here in the hope of salvation, on the call of faith and religious beliefs. Don't let them down and send them back in a worse position than they were when they first entered the Mela area.
I just hope and pray there will be better co ordination between the State and the railway authorities next time around and on the entire route of these pilgrims.
This becomes the bounden duty, of every constable, rail employee, district administrator and voluntary helper, of protecting these poor helpless pilgrims apart from doing their routine VIP duties.
Hope the flag of Allahabad is kept flying high instead of being splattered with the blood of these innocent pilgrims.