West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday expressed apprehension over a possible sabotage and attempts to create tension during the Gangasagar Mela at Sagar island in South 24 Parganas district next month.
“The police should be careful that no one enters the fair ground carrying firearms. There can be attempts to spoil the event. Some people can even try to create communal tension there. So the police should remain extremely careful,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a preparatory meeting for the Gangasagar Mela, which was attended by her cabinet colleagues, senior bureaucrats as well as representatives from the Indian Army and Coast Guard.
The nine-day religious gathering will begin on January 9 and go on till January 17, while the holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti will taken on January 14 and January 15.
Cautioning the police against fire incidents during the annual gathering, the Chief Minister asked them to ensure that no one is allowed to enter the fair ground with a cooking stove or allowed to cook within the Mela premises.
“Under no circumstances, fire ignition of any kind should be allowed within the fair ground,” Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister also said that special precautions should be taken since the state administration is expecting a record crowd, considering that there will be no ‘Kumbh Mela’ this time.
According to Banerjee, the state administration is expecting a record turnout of around 30 lakh pilgrims at the Gangasagar Mela this time.
She also requested the representatives of the Indian Army and Coast Guard to keep their respective arrangements ready in case the state administration feels the necessity for them to be deployed.
The Coast Guard representative present at the meeting informed the Chief Minister that starting January 7, their river-patrolling vessels will conduct constant monitoring near the international waters with neighbouring Bangladesh and the process will continue till the event is over.
Banerjee also said that she will personally visit the Sagar island to supervise the arrangements for the annual fair.