Survivors blame mismanagement, Shrine Board denies allegations

Twelve people were killed, while more than 14 were injured in a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir.

Katra (Jammu and Kashmir): Some survivors blamed “mismanagement” for the tragedy, saying that on the occasion of the start of the new year, a sudden crowd of devotees created a stampede at the Vaishno Devi temple, resulting in the death of 12 people.

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, however, denied the allegation saying that all necessary arrangements were made in view of the expected rush, while Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh attributed the “unfortunate” incident to a minor one. attributed the dispute. ,

A pilgrim from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, waiting outside the morgue for the identification of the body, said, “The reason for this tragic accident was nothing but mismanagement. They were aware of the possible rush but let people go unhindered.” ”

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation could have been avoided had the authorities concerned had managed the pilgrimage better.

“Similar situation happened a few minutes ago but luckily no one was hurt and the situation was brought under control. We were part of a group of 10 devotees – all neighbors. A huge crowd created a stampede as people inside and outside We’re going out, and everyone was in a hurry,” he said.

He said that many people were resting on the floor instead of going back and this increased the congestion in the building.

Another person, who lost his friend Arun Pratap Singh (30), said that they had come from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. He said the building was overcrowded.

He alleged, “I had gone to the temple about 10 years ago, but this time was surprised by the huge crowd. After the tragedy, we found ourselves helpless and there was no help till 6 in the morning.”

Rani Devi of Muzaffarpur in Bihar said she was lucky to have escaped death.

She blamed the “unruly crowd” of pilgrims in the building, saying, “I saw many dead on the floor and was heartbroken.”

Another devotee Aditya Sharma said that some people who were sleeping on the floor were crushed in the stampede.

After the incident, several pilgrims were seen leaving the base camp at Katra without having a darshan.

Rekha, who went with five other family members, including three children, said, “We are from Pathankot. We returned from the building without ‘darshan’ because of the stampede.”

Prem Singh of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh said there was complete disturbance as neither the number of pilgrims was restricted nor the COVID-19 guidelines were in force.

“It was a free-for-all situation. Many people were without mandatory face masks,” he said, claiming that the policemen on duty at the X-ray checking point surrendered in front of a huge crowd and made people aware of the possibility. were warning about. of such an accident.

However, as the pilgrimage remained unaffected, many people were seen waiting in long queues to visit the temple.

“We have been waiting for five hours, but nothing is working,” said Navdeep from Karnal, Haryana.

Temple Board Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Kumar, who was among the first to take stock of the situation and visit the injured at Narayan Hospital, could not be contacted for comment.

Another board official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that adequate arrangements, including security, have been made in view of the possible rush of pilgrims.

The DGP said that preliminary information received from the spot suggests that there was an altercation between some boys and within seconds a stampede broke out.

“Police and civil administration officials responded immediately and order was immediately restored within the crowd, but by then the damage was done,” he told PTI.

Senior BJP leader and former MLA Devendra Singh Rana took stock of the situation after interacting with the pilgrims here.

“It is a sad incident and a sad moment for all of us. The entire administration is working to return the bodies of the dead to their families and provide adequate treatment to the injured,” he said.

Rana said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also taken cognizance of the incident and the Lt Governor-led administration is trying its best.

“This is not the time for accusations or counter-allegations. It is a tragedy that has happened and no one should play politics over it,” he said. At least 12 people were killed and over a dozen injured in a stampede near gate number three outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple on Trikuta hills, about 50 km from Jammu, at around 2.30 am.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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