PRAYAGRAJ: Over two crore devotees are expected to take a holy dip in the third 'shahi snaan' of the Kumbh on Basant Panchami on Sunday. 'Shahi snaan' is the central highlight of the Kumbh Mela and the most important part of the celebration. It is only after the completion of 'shahi snaan' that people are allowed to take the holy dip.
Before Basant Panchami, the two shahi snaans that have taken place so far have been on Makar Sankranti on January 15 and Mauni Amawasya on February 4.
Additional security arrangements have been made with UP Police and central paramilitary forces deployed at different crossings and parts of the city. "The whole region has been demarcated into nine zones and 20 sectors with the deployment of over 20,000 police personnel, 6,000 homeguards, 40 police stations, 58 outposts, 40 fire stations, 80 companies of central force and 20 companies of PAC," UP's Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh said.
Besides, there would be three police lines, one traffic police line, three women police stations and 317 police response vehicles to tackle an emergency situation with a response time of less than 10 minutes, he said, adding that mounted police would also be there.
With a view to counter any terrorist activity, Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) commandoes, anti-sabotage commandoes with snipers, bomb disposal units, sniffer dog squads and intelligence units have also been pressed into service, Singh said.
Ahead of the holy dip, the Allahabad High Court on Saturday directed that no photographs of women taking a bath or a dip in the river Ganga during Kumbh Mela would be published by any print or visual media house. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Aseem Kumar Rai. "If any publication is found to have done the same, an action shall be taken against the publisher by the High Court," the court said.
Kumbh Mela is the largest human congregation in the world, with lakhs of pilgrims participating in the festival with the belief that taking a dip at the holy Sangam, a confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers would pave the way for salvation. The 55-day long Kumbh Mela will end on March 4.
(With PTI inputs)