Indian Coast Guard rescues 182 Gangasagar pilgrims stranded on a grounded ferry off Kakdwip in West Bengal

Team India Sentinels Tuesday 16th of January 2024 07:12 PM

An Indian Coast Guard hovercraft rescuing Gangasagar pilgrims from the ferry MV Swasthya Sathi off Kakdwip. (Photo: Indian Coast Guard)

New Delhi: The Indian Coast Guard quickly responded to an incident and rescued 182 pilgrims stranded on a grounded ferry off Kakdwip in West Bengal, on Tuesday, the defence ministry said in a news release. The incident happened when Merchant Vessel Swasthya Sathi was ferrying about 400 pilgrims from Gangasagar Mela (fair) at Sagar Island to Kakdwip when it ran aground due to low visibility.

Kakdwip is a town in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district, which is situated on the eastern banks of the Hooghly river.

After receiving a message from the district magistrate of South 24 Parganas in the wee hours of Tuesday, the Coast Guard swung into action, immediately formed a rescue team and dispatched two hovercrafts from Haldia and Sagar Island to help the pilgrims. The hovercrafts evacuated 182 pilgrims before guiding the boat with the remaining pilgrims to a safe destination.

To ensure the safety of people during the annual fair, the Coast Guard had already deployed sea-borne units at various strategic locations. A quick-reaction lifesaving team of divers, with a Gemini boat is positioned at the mela site for any eventuality. (Gemini boats are inflatable boats made of impermeable, heavy-duty polymer-coated fabrics.)

In addition, an officer from Indian Coast Guard Ship Frazerganj is positioned at Sagar Island for coordination with the state administration and supervision of seafront safety.

What is Gangasagar Mela?

The Gangasagar Mela (fair) is an annual Hindu festival held at West Bengal’s Gangasagar village, where the Ganga river meets the Bay of Bengal. The mela is held every year on Makar Sankranti at Kapil Muni’s ashram located in the village.

The Gangasagar Mela is the second-largest Hindu fair after the Kumbh Mela. Pilgrims from across India come to Sagar Island every year to take a holy dip on Makar Sankranti. According to a West Bengal minister, around 51 lakh pilgrims visited the congregation last year.

The Gangasagar is mentioned in the Mahabharata’s Vana Parva pilgrimage. Also, in an inscription, King Devapala of the Pala dynasty mentions that he performed rituals at the Ganga-Bay of Bengal confluence in Gangasagar.


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