January 13, 2009

1.5 lakh pilgrims at Ganga Sagar

Sagar Island (WB), Jan 12 : In the backdrop of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, security at the Ganga Sagar mela was beefed up with Kapil Muni's temple cordoned off and 5000 policemen deployed at the fair which began today, official sources said. About 1.5 lakh pilgrims, including a large number of sadhus from across the country and Nepal have congregated for the mela, the largest religious congregation in this part of the country, for the holy dip on Makar Sankranti on Wednesday, the sources said.
There were 24 watch towers, 22 of them with close circuit TVs, while metal detectors and sniffer dogs were being used to check pilgrims, the sources said. A Fokker aircraft and helicopters of the Coast Guard were keeping watch from the air and a hovercraft on the waters, the sources said. A total 14 additional superintendents of police, besides the South 24 Parganas police superintendent were keeping round-the-clock vigil. Over 100 NGOs were at work to provide services to the pilgrims. The West Bengal government has withdrawn all taxes except pilgrim tax of Rs 5 this time.

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