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115 killed, over 100 injured in Madhya Pradesh temple stampede
P Naveen & Amarjeet Singh, TNN | Oct 13, 2013, 07.47 PM IST
BHOPAL: At least 115 pilgrims, including 30 children were killed and more
than 100 injured in a stampede on narrow bridge to the historic Ratangarh
temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday. This is shocking
re-run of the 2006 tragedy at the same site when 50 pilgrims were washed
The bridge over the swollen Sindh river, which leads to the temple was
chock-a-block with over one lakh devotees from Madhya Pradesh and
neighbouring UP on auspicious Navami day.
Swirling rumours about an imminent collapse of the bridge after a police
lathicharge on devotees triggered panic. While scores of pilgrims were
trampled, others were drowned after jumping into the swollen river. Bodies
lay sprawled on the bridge even as rescue teams from Gwalior were delayed
due to battered roads and a 10-km traffic jam.There were only nine
constables and a sub-inspector manning the over-lakh crowd on the 500-metre
long bridge when the tragedy took place.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a judicial inquiry into the
tragedy and Congress president Sonia Gandhi has expressed anguish. The
Ratangarh temple is located 55 km from the Datia district headquarters and
405 km north of Bhopal.
"We have counted 100 bodies so far. Several pilgrims died on way to
hospital. The toll may rise manifold," a senior police officer told TOI.
The tragedy was sparked off by rumours that the bridge on Sindh River -
through which pilgrims were heading towards temple - was collapsing. In a
huge lapse on part of the administration, heavy vehicles carrying pilgrims
were allowed to ply on the bridge. Eye-witnesses claim a clash between two
groups of villagers on the bridge forced a minor lathicharge by police which
triggered the stampede.
Speaking to TOI, eyewitness Manoj Sharma, 28, said, "police lathicharge
worsened the crisis, forcing many to jump off the bridge." Sharma, a
resident of Bhander village in Datia, was on his way to the temple along
with his friends. A massive traffic jam on way to the temple hampered relief
work and mobs began pelting stones at the police. Two cops, including a
sub-divisional officer of police (SDOP) B N Basave was assaulted by the mob.
"The toll could touch 120. We are yet to recover bodies from the river,"
Chambal range DIG D K Arya told TOI. Chief secretary, DGP and ADG
intelligence have air dashed to the spot on a chopper.
Senior BSP leader and former Congress MLA Rajendra Bharti alleged the
collector and SP were busy with election management in Basai, 85 km from the
district headquarters, and did not take steps to ensure efficient crowd
A team of more than 20 doctors have been dispatched to the spot, and a high
alert has been sounded in surrounding Shivpuri district. The casualty wards
of district hospitals have been vacated. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh
Chouhan has announced a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh each to the kin of the
victims. Leader of opposition Ajay Singh has appealed the chief minister to
increase the compensation.
It was religious frenzy compounded by administrative failure that led to a
similar tragedy in 2006 over the bridge on the Sindh river.