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‘2 Crore’ Devotees At Kumbh Mela 2019: How True is This Claim?

The Quint reached Prayagraj to get the actual estimate of the number of devotees present at the Kumbh Mela.

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Video Editor: Varun Sharma

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The administration at the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj has claimed that around 2 crore devotees took a dip at the sangam during Makar Sankranti on 14-15 January. Ever since this report surfaced, questions are being raised regarding the number of devotees present at the Mela.

As Quint Hindi reached Prayagraj’s railway stations and bus stops to get the actual estimate of the number of devotees present at the Mela, the claim made by the administration became a little hard to digest.

There are several reasons for that. The biggest reason being that till date, devotees are not equipped to come to Allahabad in their own cars. The majority of devotees still commute via trains. Quint Hindi was at the city’s biggest railway station, Allahabad Junction, and found the station (in a city which apparently had two crore people in two days) to be empty.

What Do The People Think?


Senior journalist Ratibhan Tripathi, who has been covering the Kumbh since 1989, does not agree with the administration’s claim on the number of devotees present.

“I have been covering the Kumbh since ‘89. This is my sixth Kumbh Mela. The greatness, divinity, and grandeur witnessed in this Kumbh is far better than the others. But I do not support the claims made regarding the number of people coming to the Kumbh.”
Ratibhan Tripathi, senior journalist

Local journalist Manish Paliwal refers to this claim as a “crowd scam”.

“The government makes claims, several budgets are declared talking about the work done, but the ground reality is something else. This can be called a ‘Crowd Scam’ as the government does not have any authentic data or source to justify that many people coming to the Kumbh Mela.”
Manish Paliwal, local journalist
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We got in touch with the staff at the Kumbh administration to learn how the numbers of devotees are calculated.

“This is a count taken manually. The number of people who take a dip for 30-60 minutes at the ghat are counted. Through photography and videography this assessment is made. There is no way to do digital mapping in order to give a precise estimate.”
Dilip Kumar Trigunayak, staff, Mela admin

TV Journalist Mohan Khan also dismisses the numbers.

“A large crowd is shown in an attempt to establish the approved budget for the Mela. So you have taken Rs 10 from everyone to spend on x number of people. It is done to justify that. That’s why the budget and the number increases every time. If this time we have taken Rs 10 for a certain number of people then next year for the same number we will claim Rs 15, 17 or 20. If we wish to claim Rs 20 then we will have to show a crowd of 125, 150 to 200 people instead of 100. That’s why this game is played, for the budget.”
Mohan Khan, TV journalist

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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