| Senior police officers inspect Kartik Purnima preparations at Adalat Ghat on Tuesday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
A temporary police outpost is all that devotees would have to fall back on in case of any mishap while taking holy dip at the ill-fated Adalat Ghat on Wednesday on the occasion of Kartik Purnima.
Last Monday, as many as 17 people died in a stampede in a lane off the Adalat Ghat after performing the Chhath rituals in the evening. On Wednesday, hundreds of people are expected to take bath before sunrise. Besides proper arrangements for lights, the lone police outpost is expected to help the devotees in time of crisis.
“We have set up a temporary police post on the sandy stretch on the Ganga. An additional superintendent of police-rank officer has been made the in-charge of the post. Two DSP-rank officers and at least 12 policemen would be there. They will be on the spot from Tuesday until the holy bath ends on Wednesday. The police will do their best to ensure a smooth festivity,” Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amrit Raj said.
What is strange, however, is the fact that the 7ft lane leading to the ghat has been divided into two narrower stretches using bamboo sticks. Sixty-year-old Ashalata Devi, who came from Arwal district, some 50km southwest of Patna, was nervous after looking at the barricaded lane.
“We have got a pond at our village but nothing compared to the holy dip in the Ganga. It is somehow a bit shaky for me coming here as the Adalat Ghat lane has become narrower. This lane ends at a series of steep steps that will be bustling with people,” she said.
The area where the temporary bridge was constructed during Chhath has been cordoned off with bamboo sticks so that no one can reach the Ganga from that place. “It is a nervous time for us. Barely a week back, this same spot saw death of so many children and women. We are under pressure to ensure proper safety to the devotees,” an on-duty police officer said.
Residents of the area feel that the administration should have put up barricades along the Ganga to indicate the depth of the river, especially for those who come from far-off places to take a dip there.
“We fail to understand as to why didn’t the administration put up bamboo sticks? Kartik Purnima witnesses many people coming from districts. How will they know the spot in the river from where they shouldn’t move forward?” asked Manoj Kumar, a local resident.
After officials of the Patna Municipal Corporation rejected the district administration’s proposal to put up barricades in the Ganga, only the police and National Disaster Response Force personnel can help the devotees in distress.