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Over 99 per cent people lost in Kumbh reunited

Last updated on: February 28, 2013 16:17 IST

Over 99 per cent people lost in Kumbh reunited

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Sharat Pradhan meets Raja Ram Tiwari who runs the 'Bhule Bhatke' camp at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad that has been zealously re-uniting missing people with their loved ones.

Over 2 lakh people went missing in the 55-day-long Kumbh Mela. But unlike yesteryears, over 99 per cent of the 'lost' ones were re-united with their families, leaving just about 175 persons in the 'lost and found' camp.

That's the first thing that strikes you as soon as you step into the 59 square kilometre 'Kumbh Nagari' dotted with tents along the banks of the Sangam -- the holy confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers.

About  8 crore plus devotees who have officially visited the Sangam to take the customary dip at the holy confluence have a deeply-ingrained belief that the waters ordained by a particular constellation of stars during the Kumbh Mela, which began on January 14 last, would actually wash their sins and pave a quick path to salvation.

"Thousands of persons reported at our 'Bhule Bhatke' camp everyday and I am proud of the fact that almost everyone gets reunited with his or her family within the next 24 hours," claims 84-year-old Raja Ram Tiwari, who runs the camp with unparalleled missionary zeal.

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Image: Pilgrims walk across a pontoon bridge as others bathe on the banks of Sangam
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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The philanthropist has been providing this voluntary service since 1946 and has ensured that as many as 10 lakh lost persons were reunited with their kin in six Maha Kumbhs and seven Ardh Kumbhs.

The octogenarian still chooses to remain active even though his son Umesh Chandra Tiwari is now fully trained in the art of running the show.

"My father started with a few volunteers to form the Bharat Sewa Dal, which has now grown to about 150 members who are providing yeoman service to the society without seeking anything in return," Umesh points out.

Over the years, two other organizations have emerged to supplement the Bharat Sewa Dal. These included Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Smriti Sansthan, a voluntary body run by the family of the one time popular Congress leader from Allahabad.

Doing their bit, this organization is responsible for re-uniting some 51,000 persons who got separated from their families at the on-going Kumbh Mela, which was now on its last leg.

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Image: Devotees walk towards Allahabad train station after taking a dip at the Sangam
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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And adding to their effort was the contribution of a newly-introduced computerised service under the aegis of the fair administration, which ensured that nearly 8000 lost persons were re-united.

With the Kumbh Mela rush receding now, the number of lost persons is also coming down everyday.

"It is the accumulated number over the past 44 days that have taken the total figure to 175," says Umesh, adding, "Considering that as many as 2.25 lakh went missing this time, the figure of 175 is clearly not very high. I am sure we will manage to send them to their respective homes over the next few days."

Kumbh Mela District Magistrate Mani Prasad Misra is also ready to provide all official assistance to ensure the safe return of those left behind at the lost and found camp.

"We will see to it that everyone reaches his home. And just in case there are some who cannot give details of their homes, we will put them in proper shelter homes where they would be fully looked after," he said.


Image: Devotees cram onto their train at Allahabad train station
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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