The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 15 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Safety, chill spoil holy dip wish of devotees

The morning chill on Monday scored over the wish of several devotees to take the holy dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

Compared to Chhath or Kartik Poornima, fewer people turned up for the holy bath in the Ganga. “Maybe, many people could not come for the holy dip because of the cold. But devout people like me did take the bath beating the chill,” Ashok Kumar, a resident of the Kankerbagh area, said.

The lack of safety arrangements at ghats could also be a reason behind the dip in the turnout. There was no police presence at several banks of the river. Some were secured, though. The Adalat Ghat along Ashok Rajpath — where 17 people died in a stampede during the Chhath — was one among them.

Several policemen manned it. There were frequent announcements, asking people to be patient and not to panic under any circumstances.

An officer posted at the ghat said: “All arrangements are in place to ensure there is no accident. Police teams have spread out. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel are also moving in the river.”

The Khajekala Ghat or the Gai Ghat in Patna City was not as secured. The Telegraph could spot only the NDRF personnel at the Khajekala Ghat.

“After the stampede at the Adalat Ghat, the police should have been present at all the ghats. I haven’t come across a single cop at the Khajekala Ghat until now,” Manohar Singh, a resident of the Zero Mile area of Patna City, said around 12noon.

The police, however, claimed that they manned all the ghats. “Cops are there at all the ghats. Just that they are scattered and some of them are in civil dress,” another police officer said.

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