To regulate pilgrim flow, Astha special trains to Ayodhya deferred till February - Hindustan Times
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To regulate pilgrim flow, Astha special trains to Ayodhya deferred till February

Jan 26, 2024 09:10 AM IST

From February 5, too, all Astha special trains will leave within 24 hours of their arrival and the state’s transport department will facilitate the movement of the pilgrims to and from the railway station

Nearly 20 ‘Astha special’ trains that were expected to bring pilgrims from across the country to Ayodhya from January 26 (Friday) onwards have now been rescheduled to arrive here from February 5. The decision is aimed at decongesting the temple town currently flooded with pilgrims who poured into Ayodhya from Tuesday, the day when the grand Ram temple opened for common devotees.

Devotees arrive to offer prayers in Ayodhya. (PTI PHOTO)
Devotees arrive to offer prayers in Ayodhya. (PTI PHOTO)

“Astha special trains that will be run from across the country will arrive as per plan from February 5 onwards but the schedule from January 26 till February 5 is now being reworked as it was felt that without decongesting the temple town, more incoming pilgrims will create problems for devotees for whom the government wants to ensure a hassle-free darshan,” the state’s transport minister Daya Shankar Singh told HT.

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“From February 5, too, all Astha special trains will leave within 24 hours of their arrival and the state’s transport department will facilitate the movement of the pilgrims to and from the railway station,” Singh said.

Singh was part of the high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Yogi Adityanath to decongest the temple town and to ensure “best of facilities” to the pilgrims. After Tuesday’s scramble, Yogi Adityanath had conducted an aerial inspection of the temple town, discussed crowd management and subsequently rushed two of his senior officers -- principal secretary, home, Sanjay Prasad and DG (law and order) Prashant Kumar -- to regulate the pilgrim flow. The move worked well with things falling into place from Wednesday onwards and now the government’s focus is to ensure that a fresh batch of pilgrims is moved in after the present batch of devotees have left.

“I was present in that meeting with the chief minister where the focus was on decongesting the temple town before letting more in,” Singh said.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Alok Kumar had earlier confirmed to HT that VHP had approached the railways for special trains to facilitate pilgrim visits to Ayodhya from January 26 onwards, the move timed with a similar plan from the Bhartiya Janata Party whose party units from different states were also planning to facilitate similar visits by common people wishing to visit Ram Mandir that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ayodhya on Monday (January 22).

“Besides trains, devotees will also arrive in Ayodhya by buses from across the state and from many parts of the country. We will, of course, look to coordinate the movement of buses in a manner to guard against overcrowding. As of now, the transport department’s focus is to ensure that maximum devotees who have done their darshan are moved out so that a newer batch could move in,” Singh said.

“As of now, there are 300 electric buses in temple town, and we intend to add as many more,” he said.

He also said chief minister Yogi Adityanath has already made an appeal to VIPs planning to visit the temple town to intimate in advance so that proper arrangements could be made to regulate the pilgrim flow.

“Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi ji were anxious to ensure that all devotees get to visit Ram Mandir. The best of facilities for all pilgrims, from drinking water arrangements to ensuring that there is some covering on the ground so that pilgrims arriving barefoot are not inconvenienced in the cold,” Singh said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged his cabinet ministers to defer temple visits till after February to ensure that the common devotees are not inconvenienced, party leaders said.

U.P. BJP functionary Manvendra Singh, who is camping in Ayodhya, said that various party cadres were already deployed in the temple town to help the pilgrims. “The BJP cadres are at various points across Ayodhya and tasked with the single objective of ensuring all possible facilities to devotees so that they aren’t put to any inconvenience,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write offbeat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans, but also from newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn.

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