More than 1,000 pilgrims stranded in Ajmer leave for West Bengal

This is the third train of the North Western Railway to be used for evacuation.
Officials in Ajmer see off stranded pilgrims who boarded a special train for their home in West Bengal.(Deepak Sharma/HT PHOTO)
Officials in Ajmer see off stranded pilgrims who boarded a special train for their home in West Bengal.(Deepak Sharma/HT PHOTO)
Published on May 04, 2020 05:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Jaipur | ByRakesh Goswami | Edited by Sabir Hussain

A special train with more than 1,000 pilgrims left Ajmer for West Bengal Monday morning as part of an exercise to evacuate stranded people, officials said.

This is the third train to be operated by the North Western Railway (NWR) headquartered in Jaipur. Earlier, one train took 1,180 workers from Jaipur to Patna on around midnight on May 1. The second train went from Nagaur to Hatia in Jharkhand on Sunday with 905 workers on board.

Monday’s train from Ajmer to Dankuni in West Bengal left at 11:25am with 1,186 passengers.

“These are pilgrims who were stranded in Ajmer since the lockdown was first imposed on March 24,” said Sreya Guha, principal secretary of forest and environment and tourism departments and in charge of transfer of stranded people between Rajasthan and West Bengal.

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The pilgrims had come to visit the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and were stranded when the lockdown was announced to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Dargah Committee, a management body for the shrine, said all stakeholders donated for rail fare of the pilgrims.

“The Dargah committee, khadims (people who facilitate prayers) and Ajmer Sharif Diwan donated money to collect fare for the pilgrim. We gave 825,660 to the railways,” said Shakil Ahmed, nazim (secretary) of Dargah Committee.

He said earlier the committee also paid for buses for sending 150 pilgrims to different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Al pilgrims were screened before they boarded the train.

An official of NWR said no passenger on the special trains was charged fare; it was paid by the district administration. “We don’t know where they raised it through donations or any other means; all that we know is the railways got the money from the district administrations for each train,” he said, requesting anonymity.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022