Lakhs take dip in holy Ganga on Kartik Purnima

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Varanasi, Nov 24: Serial blasts in three cities of Uttar Pradesh yesterday failed to dampen the spirit of reveller as lakhs of devotees today took the holy dip in river Ganga at various ghats on the occasion of Kartik Purnima.

For the first time in the history of Varanasi, the devotees had to pass through metal detectors to reach the banks of Ganga.

Six metal detectors were installed, three each at the entry points of Dashswamedh and Dr Rajendra Prasad ghats.

Besides, a large number of police, PAC and water police jawans were deployed at the ghats.

In total disregard to yesterday's blast terror, the devotees appeared cheerful and continued with the bathing rituals fearlessly.

Later, they visited various temples, especially the world famous and much reverred Vishwanath temple.

Security arrangements had also been beefed up at various sensitive and important points in Varanasi.

Today is Dev Deepawali Mahotsava, which is celebrated on the ghats by lighting earthen lamps amid other programmes, including Ganga arti, Ganga pujan and cultural events.

However, following yesterday's serial blasts, the organisers have decided to cancel all cultural programmes, other than Ganga Puja and lighting of lamps. Dev Deepawali has taken an international shape with hundreds of people from the country and abroad coming to witness this unique festival of lights.

Many people, who had made prior bookings, including 200 visitors from Japan, have cancelled their visit following the blasts.

Late last night, union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal visited the blast site.

He also visited the Shiv Prasad Gupta and Sir Sunder Lal Hospital of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and enquired about the health of the blast victims.

Condemning the incident of blasts by terrorists in Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow, Mr Jaiswal said the terrorists were bent upon disturbing the communal harmony and peace of the country.

''...but, they would not be successful in their attempts as the people are united and will foil their nefarious designs.'' On the allegation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati about the failure of central agencies, Mr Jaiswal said it was not the time for playing politics.

''Everyone should come forward for the assistance of the blast victims.'' The Union Minister assured all help to the UP government in dealing with terrorism.

UNI

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