The death of at least seven pilgrims and the injuries to dozens at Simhastha due to thunderstorm come at a time when the administration is grappling with a low turnout at the religious spectacle.
Questions are being asked why despite repeated warnings by the meteorological department, the administration failed to issue any warning or take pre-emptive steps to avert the disaster. The quality of tents also raises questions about the administration’s foresight in allowing such structures to come up at the venue.
Pilgrims are having a tough time as the Simhastha venue is filled with slush and mud. Mud was splashed all over the tents as water inundated several places at the venue. Uprooted modular toilets only added to the mounting challenges for the administration. Vehicles refused to move ahead as their wheels sank in mud. The front gates bore a tattered look.
“Over 500 saints and disciples take food at the camp…the entire stock of wheat got wet. Now we will have to depend on others for meals,” Mahant Rajkishore Das in Mangalnath area said.
A strange and eerie silence pervading the venue only added to the overriding sense of tragedy.
From the beginning, the word had spread that this Simhashta was being held under the evil shadow of ‘Guru Chandal Yog’. It will not be an overstatement to say that devouts will now think twice to undertake the pilgrimage to Ujjain.
The administration and the ruling party at large are already under pressure because of the low attendance at Simhastha. While the administration claimed that more than one crore people would attend the first Shahi Shan, less than 10 lakh devouts turned out for the event.
To ensure better attendance, the BJP had swung into action and targets given to each and every party leader to ensure greater participation for the second Shahi Shan on May 9. All that preparations may now come to naught because of the tragedy that struck the religious congregation.
However, Bhupendra Singh, in-charge minister of Simhastha Kumbh, remains confident and hopes that the mela will gather strength again in the next two-three days and the second Shahi Snan will be a grand event. Singh rejected apprehensions that pilgrims would now avoid coming after the disaster that struck Simhastha on Thursday.