On April 21, on the eve of the first ‘shahi snan’ (royal holy dip) of Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain, the administration blocked all the entry points to Ram Ghat, the ancient ghat which was supposed to be reserved for the sadhus of 13 Akharas until noon the next day.
However, thousands of pilgrims stayed back at or near the Ram Ghat and managed to take a holy dip on the morning of April 22. The crowd’s jostling with the security personnel deployed at the ghat not only created chaos but also ended up enraging the sadhus.
Things worsened to such as extent that a section of sadhus clashed with the police on April 24, which prompted Akhara Parishad president Narendra Giri to issue an ultimatum to the state government: “Either the local administration improves the management, or all the Akharas will boycott Simhastha before second shahi snan on May 9.”
The government has swung into action and relieved an additional commissioner of the Ujjain Municipal Commissioner from all the key assignments for various “irregularities”. The district-in charge minister Bhupendra Singh has also announced some measures to ensure better crowd management.
“The problem on the day of first shahi snan was that policemen were neither allowing ordinary pilgrims to enter the Ram Ghat, nor were they allowing pilgrims who had managed to enter early in the morning to leave the premises. So, there were no entry or exit points and this created a lot of chaos,” said an Ujjain district official requesting anonymity. “On top of that, the public transportation inside the mela premises, where vehicles were barred, was non-existent and this caused a lot of inconvenience to visitors”
Admin should learn lessons from the mismanagement during first shahi snan: MP
Member of Parliament from Ujjain, Chintamani Malviya, said, “The administration should learn lessons from the mismanagement during the first shahi snan and set things right on the day of second shahi snan.”
Malviya, in a meeting held in Ujjain the day after sadhus clashed with police, had lambasted senior administrative officials for the lapses, especially in the crowd management and traffic plan.
While the administration has pulled up its socks for the second shahi snan and announced a series of measures, including improving parking arrangements and allowing people not having passes to move freely around the mela area, officials said the key will be ensuring that Ram Ghat is reserved exclusively for sadhus.