People who may go missing at the annual Ganga Sagar Mela, set to begin next month, will find an unlikely helping hand this year — the amateur radio operators of West Bengal.
Members of West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club) — comprising individuals from different ages, ranging from school students to social workers — are set to help any missing pilgrims.
Their motto — ‘When you will give life, you will have life’.
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With the support of the South-24 Parganas administration and the district police, and in association with the state inter-agency group (IAG), the club is now looking to aid those who lose their loved ones in the Mela.
Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of Bengal Amateur Radio Club, said: “We are trying to help find missing persons from different spots around Sagar Island, Chemaguri, Kanchurebia and outside of the island. We are working with local agencies and NGOs and have set up a website which will look to make the sharing of information among people easier. All one needs to do is file their missing complaint, and we will do everything we can to help out further.”
Ganga Sagar Mela, also known as Ganga Sagar Yatra or Ganga Snan, is the annual gathering of Hindu pilgrims to take a holy dip in the Ganga, where the river merges with the Bay of Bengal at Makar Sankranti in Sagar Island.
Famous globally and a key focus of the state government’s religious tourism plans, the mela is also the second-largest congregation of people in the world after the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh.
An official said, “Every years, a number of people get lost and it is always a major problem for us. Every year, we take precautions and change our tactics, but the sheer scale makes instantaneous connections very important. This year, we hope the amateur radio operators can help us.”
“Photographs of the missing person will be circulated, and we will be able to communicate with each other even in areas that have poor signal connectivity. Our network will help us, we hope, to find people quickly and reunite them with families at the earliest,” added Aditya Kumar Mondal, another member.
“The idea came about from our continued efforts to help as many people as possible. Ganga Sagar Mela is a massive festival. We don’t want the religious experience to be marred by the loss of a loved one,” said Abhijeet Sutradhar, another member.