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Stay-over fears over Bangladeshi pilgrims

Midnapore, Feb. 17: Intelligence officials in West Midnapore have their fingers crossed since the arrival of a train from Bangladesh this morning with 1,057 pilgrims bound for the dargah of Maulana Syed Shah Murshed Ali al Qaderi.

A special train of the Bangladesh Railway arrived here at 8 am with 615 men, 281 women and 161 children headed for the dargah on the occasion of the annual Urs festival. The dargah is also celebrating its 101st anniversary this year.

The train will leave for Bangladesh at 10 pm tomorrow.

“Though we have been keeping a strict watch on the situation with whatever resources we have, we can do very little if some one tries to create trouble. It is impossible for us to keep track of their (pilgrims’) movements and activities,” said a senior officer of the district intelligence branch.

The pilgrims are not carrying passports or valid visas for their brief tour of India, raising apprehensions in the district administration about the possibility of some of them staying over.

“We do not have with us any document specifying their identities or addresses. We only checked the papers they were given while crossing the border,” said additional superintendent of police Anil Srinivas.

“We have set up a camp where the pilgrims are staying. We are on the lookout for any breach of law during the congregation,” he added.

District intelligence officials are worried about the possibility of some pilgrims being substituted for others. “We just tally the names on the list. The documents they are carrying does not have photographs,” said an intelligence officer.

The police are also worried about the lack of proper security measures for the pilgrims. “It is only because of diplomatic reasons that the Indian government is not meddling in this issue,” the officer added.

Nearly 70,000 pilgrims from all over the country are congregating for the festival this year. “We have made arrangements in wards 12 and 13. Tarpaulin sheds have been erected for their accommodation,” said the chairman of the local municipality, Nazim Ahmed.

He added that the municipality has made arrangements for sweepers and cleaners to ensure that the area remains clean despite the crowd.

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