Hyderabad blasts ripples at Kumbh, admn tightens security

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In the wake of the heightened security perception following the blasts at Hyderabad on February 21, the Kumbh administration is taking no chances in the run up to the Maghi Purnima snan on February 25. The Mela administration is expecting around 1.65 crore people on this day, provided the rain does not play spoilsport as it had on the Basant Panchami snan on February 15.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Kumbh), RKS Rathore, said that the security preparedness in the Kumbh Mela area had been relaxed to some extent following the Mauni Amavasya snan on February 10, as the number of people in the Mela area had begun dwindling. "At least seven companies of the para-military force had been released from here and were sent to Deoria. However, in the wake of the situation that has developed (following the blasts), we have recalled them. Around 30,000 police personnel drawn from the Uttar Pradesh Police, as well as para-military forces, would be deployed to ensure foolproof security during Maghi Purnima," said Rathore in a statement issued here on Saturday.

The police, para-military and commandos of various units have already been deployed and intensive checking of vehicles is being done in and around the Mela area. Already, vehicles without passes are not being allowed to enter the Mela area.

Throughout the Mela area, the police teams are checking not only the vehicles but also those selling tea and other items in the open. Updates are also being gathered on the people living in the camps. The police teams are also checking the hotels, guest houses and dharamshalas to look for suspicious people.

While the CCTV cameras have been installed to keep an eye round the clock, the police teams are also physically checking every nook and cranny, the police said.

Meanwhile, rain started again in the city in the afternoon sending warning signals to the authorities concerned. An alert has already been sounded out by the Commissioner Allahabad Division, Devesh Chaturvedi.

The city on Saturday received around 13.4 mm of rain since afternoon, which continued till late in the evening, creating problems for the devotees who had come to the Mela. The weatherman has forecast occasional rain on Sunday too.

"Our camp has become wet and water has entered many places. We have had to postpone our press conference. Probably we will be fixing it up in a hotel," said Ajay Gaur, spokesperson for Swami Upendra Parashar, who wanted to interact with the media Saturday evening at his camp on Shankaracharya "B" Marg in Sector-9.

The Flood Control Department and all the sector magistrates have been asked to be ready with pumps and the other paraphernalia to drain out water in the event of water logging. While over 140 pumps have been kept ready to drain out water, the power supply was likely to remain erratic as the department concerned will have to first ensure the safety of the devotees in the camps before resuming power supply in the evening.

Two days of rain, which began on Basant Panchami afternoon, had led to chaos in the Mela area, forcing many devotees, including some kalpvasis, to leave the Mela midway.

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