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Another temple tragedy due to administrative laxity

Jaipur, Tue, 30 Sep 2008 NI Wire

At least 150 devotees died in the Tuesday morning stampede occurred at the famous Chamunda Devi Temple in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. This is the second major incident in this year after August 3, when over 160 people were died in a similar stampede at the Naina Devi Temple in Himachal Pradesh.

The tragic incident occurred due to over crowded temple premises on the occasion of the first day of the nine-day long annual Navratra festival. Reportedly, it was a wall which collapsed, causing panic among people and thereby the death of at least 150 pilgrims and injuring many.

According to sources, several injured admitted to the nearby hospitals are in critical stage raising fear that the death toll may go up. Almost all the dead are believed to be male as the barricade had collapsed in that section; there was a separate queue for women.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje after visiting the accident site has ordered for a probe into the Chamunda Devi temple stampede and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of the kin of those killed, and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

Administrative laxity

As agency report hints a gathering of over 20,000 people, the district or state administration had no such planning and management to regulate such a huge number of crowds. This is evident from the fact that there was neither any considerable number of police protection or medical facilities for devotees, taking earlier incidents into count.

In a similar tragedy three years ago in 2005, about 265 devotees were crushed to death during an annual Hindu pilgrimage at Mandradevi temple in Maharashtra. Apart from that six people died in July this year during the popular chariot festival (Rath Yatra) in eastern Indian state of Orissa.

However, there has been no attempt made by the government to ensure religious gathering to be organised well. The absence of a disaster management team especially to prevent such tragedies during major festivals further keeps the devotees vulnerable.

Read More: Jodhpur

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