The Bombay high court has sought to know from Maharashtra government whether it planned to put in place adequate safety measures to combat terror attacks or stampede during the Kumbh Mela in Nashik to be held in July-August 2015.
A bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice BP Colabawalla on Monday asked the state to file an affidavit by January 19 in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) stating what precautions it proposes to take in this regard.
The PIL filed by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti submitted that in the 2003 Kumbh Mela in Nashik, 29 devotees had died and 118 were injured due to unsatisfactory infrastructure. Hence, it sought deployment of sufficient police personnel and CCTVs in various places to prevent any possible terrorist/Maoist attack.
The petition apprehended a security threat, saying that terrorism has increased in the last decade 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 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the possibility of terrorist attacks can’t be ruled out,” it said.
Shekhar Jagtap, counsel for Nashik Municipal Corporation, told the high court that the civic body did not have enough land to accommodate around one crore devotees expected to throng the city for the Mela. In the last Kumbh Mela in 2003, around 60 to 70 lakhs devotees had visited Nashik.
“Apart from people from the city, several lakhs from outside the city are expected to visit. We also do not have place to build sadhugrams (temporary lodges where sadhus can stay during the mela),” said Jagtap.
The PIL urged that the authorities be directed to release necessary funds and acquire the land required for holding the Kumbh Mela.
In 2003, there were incessant rains in Nashik causing floods and epidemics in the Kumbh residential areas and many tents in sadhugrams were submerged in water, the PIL said.
Apart from threat to human lives, the issue of water pollution should be considered, the PIL said adding, Godavari is one of the holiest rivers and therefore all reasonable and proper care needed to be taken for keeping it pollution-free.