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Rajib Chakraborty | SNS | Gangasagar | 14 January, 2016:: Strong security measures have been taken including deployment of Indian naval ships within five kilometre radius of the Bay of Bengal from Sagar Island, where over a hundred thousand people have assembled to take the holy dip on Makar Sankranti.Though state administration did not specify if they have received any specific security threat but have taken strong security measures including deploying of hovercraft, interceptor boats, setting up several watch towers in the bay, positioning of the NDRF team, coastal guards and few contingents of the police force.
PB Salim, district magistrate of the South 24-Parganas, said that Indian naval teams have come from Vishakhapatnam.
“Helicopters have been arranged for emergency rescue services and drone surveillance have been started from Wednesday,” he said. Around 2000 armed police personnel have been deployed on rotation for 24 hours vigilance in the bay areas.
Armed policemen with AK 47 rifles have been keeping an eye towards Bay of Bengal from watch towers. Night vision CCTV cameras were installed in bay areas and special cameras with face detection facility have been separately installed.
Senior officials of the state police arrived to collaborate with the district police administration. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee may visit Gangasagar fair on Thursday and a trial run of the helicopter has been initiated yesterday. No official confirmation has, however, been obtained regarding this matter.
“Footfall figures are not very satisfactory and we are not getting sufficient customers,” a vendor from the Sagar Island said. Salim said draft of the Hooghly River has become low and low tide, n the other hand has halted the pilgrims’ movement.
“Depth of the river must be above two metre for plying of the launches but it’s very low,” he said. A team from Riskhikesh have performed Ganga arati on Wednesday. UNICEF and a religious organisation have arranged an all religion gathering on Wednesday for world peace.
“We have invited the religious leaders from all different religions. Senior officials of the state government have helped us to organise this gathering for preaching universal brotherhood,” a woman from the religious organisation said.
However, pilgrims are visibly annoyed as they have to wait for a long time at lot number 8. “The state government should take initiative for dredging the river so that the draft of the river would be increased,” said Mr AK Mishra, from Varanasi.
Swami Vishnu Maharaj, who came from Vrindaban said he had to wait for more than four hours to arrive Gangasagar from lot no. 8. Meanwhile, Mahanta Gyan Das Maharaj, from Kapil Muni ashram demanded immediate construction of a bridge from Kakdwip to Kachuberia for smooth arrival of the pilgrims.
He said that auspicious time for holy bath will be after 7.34 a.m. on 15 January. “It is mahendrakkhan (auspicious time) when few lakh people will take holy dip for the heavenly blessings,” he said.
However, Makar Shankranti festival will be held tomorrow, he said. Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, has arrived on Tuesday but no other VIP from other states came to take the holy dip.
“People come to visit Gangasagar throughout the year for taking dip, so now here is no unprecedented crowd recorded. Moreover, people have to suffer a lot for reaching Sagar Island on boats due to lesser depth of the river,” said a volunteer from an ashram of the Kolkata. //Courtesy: The Statesman//.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS: Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Puri told the importance of construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya and preservation of Sanatan Sanskriti and Sanskrit language in a press conference here. He said that Muslims are most secured in India than other Muslim countries and so they warmly honor the Hindu culture and tradition instead of confronting all the times.
The South 24 District authority is giving more importance on “Green Gangasagar and Clean Gangasagar”. The Global Interfaith Wash Alliance India and Paramarth Niketan, Rishikesh jointly propagating the use of Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene among the pilgrimages.
Swami Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan urged assimilation of all faith in the light of acceptance and truth in human life. Hindu, Muslims, Jain, Buddhist and Sikhs all participated in Evening Aarti to the Gangasagar.
Mahant Gyandasji of Kapil Muni Ashram demanded the Lot 8-Kachuberia Bridge over Muriganga for the easy access of the pilgrimage coming to Gangasagar.
In an interfaith dialogue between religious heads and dignitaries it is resolved that every temple, church, mosque etc should display the message of Swami Vivekananda for the benefits of all.
A special Pulse Polio Drive is on in Sagar Mela and in South 24 Pargana District during the Sagar Mela 2016.
Pilgrims from Nepal, Bangladesh, Germany, Austria, US, UK have reached this Mela as noted. Many Foreign devotees are seen in the ISKCON pandals chanting Hare Krishna and Sankirtana.
Bharat Sevashram Sangha is participating in this Gangasagar Mela with the highest strength of volunteers as usual along with other 100 registered NOGs so far.
As per Gangasagar Mela Information office, over Ten lakh pilgrimage took the holy dip in Sagarsangam (the confluence of Ganges with Bay of Bengal). //Updates by HENB//.