Updated 1 Aug 2022, 7:11 pm
Amid the daily surge of Covid cases in Manipur, and while a total of 17 active cases were reported in Kangpokpi district, thousands of Bol-bam devotees gathered at Koubru Laikha on Sunday to participate in the Kanwar Yatra which began from Koubru Laikha and culminated in Senapati district Headquarters on Monday.
The huge congregation, having the potential to spread Covid infection, disrupted the traffic flow along National Highway - 2 from around 3 pm till late evening.
Despite the district police trying their best to maintain normal traffic flow, many passengers including patients were seen stranded for more than 2-3 hours owing to the disruption of the traffic flow by the devotees and their vehicles parked on both sides of the road.
Volunteers of the organising committee were seen helping the police but due to the mismanagement of the parking lot in the initial stage, commuters and passengers had to suffer a lot.
One of the stranded passengers talking to the media said that every religious festival is given due respect in Manipur but the celebrations should not give trouble to the travellers like this.
“I have been waiting for more than 2 hours now but there is no sight of navigating through the disrupted traffic and I cannot say for how long I am going to wait again,” he said.
A visibly exhausted patient returning from Imphal after a medical check was also seen stranded among many others, and said, “:I am extremely exhausted but it is not possible to navigate through it.”
Another stranded passenger raised concern on noticing a huge gathering when a case of COVID-19 reportedly surged in the state, even compelling the state Government to close lower classes.
According to some civil society organizations in the district, many complaints were received about the disruption of the traffic flow at Koubru Laikha, and the mismanagement of the traffic for which innocent travellers had to suffer.
TSA Sadar Hills general secretary Lalboi Lhouvum said that a team of TSA Sadar Hills went to take stock of the situation and found the mammoth gathering extensively alarming and the traffic disruption was beyond imagination.
He continued that the Kanwar Yatra, where the devotees chanted, ‘Bol-bam’ was celebrated every year, but this time the gathering was alarmingly different as the devotees and the vehicles completely blocked the highway causing traffic movement on both ends heavily disrupted which suffered many commuters and passengers.
“We informed the District SP, who promptly responded and acted but the traffic disruption had almost already gone beyond management. “Most of the devotees were seen in a celebration mood and seen openly drinking alongside the road while the odour of cannabis were everywhere,” he further added.
At the same time, failure to check over the huge gatherings amidst the surging Covid cases and the open use of drugs and alcohol on the part of the district administration was also questionable, he added.
He appealed to the authorities concerned, the district administration, and the organising committee to initiate measures so that the celebration goes smoothly without causing inconvenience to the public in the future while also checking on the open use of drugs and alcohol which could be misinterpreted among the youths.
First published:1 Aug 2022, 6:46 pm
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IFP Correspondent, KANGPOKPI