Genda Lal (70), a resident of Chanduwada village of Madhya Pradesh sat, anxious and seemingly dazed, in a corner of a room here, as he waited for word of his family members from whom he got separated in the surging crowds at the Gangasagar Mela.
Like Genda Lal, a large number of people, most often senior citizens, who had been separated from their family members while going to take a holy dip or coming to the Ganga Sagar find their way to this small room, either to be consoled or, reunited again, to feel the reassuring touch of their near and dear ones. But Lal is particularly anxious, as it has been three days, and he has been spending sleepless nights at the thought of being ditched for good.
“I had come with my family members to savour the holy dip at Ganga Sagar but unfortunately found myself alone mid-way as I could not find my family members who appeared to have drifted away amid the surging crowd. Then someone brought me here. I have been here for the last three days with the hope of meeting my family members again,” said the septuagenarian.
But Maya Devi, who too had some anxious moments after she got separated from her family members at in the fair, had a smile on her face as the volunteers had told her that her family members had been informed of her being here and she could finally make her way home.
The Bajrang Parishad desk here is handling a huge number of cases of lost and found relatives. Till now, about 2,176 cases of lost people being reunited with their families have been recorded and the lost ones have made their way to their destinations with their loved ones.
“Since the Ganga Sagar fair picked up momentum on 13 January the number of lost and found cases had seen a steep rise. The missing cases are all the more baffling as they often get separated along the way here. And since they are alien to the area, as they come from other states, getting lost is much easier than being reunified,” said Kamal Shankar Agarwal, a volunteer.
Over 30 lakh pilgrims from across the country and neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal took a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga and the Bay of Bengal on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on Tuesday.
Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee, who has been assigned the task of monitoring the arrangement for the pilgrims along with his cabinet colleagues power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay
and PWD minister Aroop Biswas, told reporters that the gathering was over 30 lakh, compared to last year’s 20 lakh, on Makar Sankranti day.
Meanwhile, four persons have so far died of cardiac arrests at the mela.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made at the Gangasagar Mela, with a huge contingent of security personnel and volunteers deployed on the premises. As many as 20 drones have been pressed into service for aerial monitoring.
Police have arrested 50 persons for petty crime.