The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the state government to file its reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking adequate safety measures in place over fears of terrorist attack and stampede during the next Kumbh Mela in Nashik in July-August 2015.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice BP Colabawalla asked the government to file its reply by January 19 detailing what precautions it proposes to take.
The Samiti carries out activities related to Hinduism, such as removing blind faith, and researching into and propagating the science of spirituality existing in the religion. It has also sought that the police force deploy sufficient personnel and set up CCTVs in various places to prevent any possible terrorist/Naxal attack.
Justifying its apprehension of security threat, the PIL said in the last decade terrorism has increased and there have been a number of attacks on Hindu temples across the country.
“In view of the recent anti-Hindu Facebook posts denigrating Hindu deities and Shivaji Maharaj, possibilities of terrorist attacks can’t be ruled out,” it added.
Shekhar Jagtap, counsel for Nashik Municipal Corporation, informed the HC that they do not have enough land to accommodate the expected number of devotees likely to throng the city for the Mela. “Apart from people from the city, several lakhs from outside the city are expected to visit. Also, we do not have place to build sadhugrams (temporary lodges where sadhus can stay during the mela),” said Jagtap.
To address these issues, the PIL has prayed that the authorities concerned be directed to release necessary funds and acquire the land required.
The PIL alleged that the authorities concerned have not made the necessary preparations to handle the 1 crore-odd crowd expected this time compared to the 60-70 lakh in 2003.
In 2003, the devotees faced incessant rains, which caused floods and epidemics in the Kumbh residential areas. Many tents in sadhugrams were submerged.
Apart from threat to human lives, the same of water pollution must also be looked into, said the PIL, adding, Godavari is one of the holiest rivers and therefore all reasonable and proper care needs to be taken for keeping her pollution-free.
Kumbh Mela is one of the most important spiritual, historic and social festivals in India and Hinduism. It is considered the largest Hindu congregation in the world. Bathing in the Godavari is an important ritual of the event.