Special teams of the Uttar Pradesh police and volunteers with the ‘Bhoole Bhatke Shivir’ camps at Prayagraj are working relentlessly to reunite lost pilgrims with their families.
Prayagraj: With the plots of several Hindi movies in the 1970’s revolving around people getting lost at the Kumbh Mela, the phenomenon has managed to turn itself into a commonly used phrase. However, data furnished by Uttar Pradesh police suggests that on an average, over 1,000 pilgrims went missing or were separated from their groups during the Kumbh Mela which commenced on January 15.
Operational since 1946, the ‘Bhoole Bhatke Shivir’ camp at the Kumbh Mela has been undertaking the onerous task of reuniting lost devotees with their families or groups. Computerised camps manned by volunteers for this purpose were first set up during the 2013 Mahakumbh when volunteers managed to reunite as many as 42,000 lost pilgrims with their kin. Umesh Tiwari, organiser of the ‘Bhoole Bhatke Shivir’ camp told media outlets that lost pilgrims are offered food and blankets inside the camps since it may take days for them to be reunited with their kin.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Kumbh, KP Singh told Times of India that more than 24,000 people who were lost were reunited with their families or groups by February 10 which was the third and last day of the ‘Shahi Shan of Kumbh 2019’. The national daily further reported that by then, 14 crore pilgrims had taken part in the holy dip at river Ganga.
As many as 15 special police teams have been set up to escort lost pilgrims back to their native states if members from their group have already left, Singh added. He also said that 72 people have been sent back to their home by law enforcement officials. Their families were traced using various means such as biometric details among others.