Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Modi orders probe into Junagadh stampede

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked Additional Chief Secretary Varun Mayera to set up a high-level committee to probe the stampede near the Bhavnath Shiva temple in Junagadh on Sunday. Seven persons were killed and over 40 injured in the incident.

A spokesman of the Chief Minister's Office said here that the committee would also suggest measures to prevent such incidents.

Mr. Modi announced an immediate relief of Rs. 1 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed and Rs. 25,000 to each of the injured. Inspector-General of Police (Rajkot Range) Pravin Sinha rushed to Junagadh to maintain law and order in view of the Mahashivratri festival on Monday. “The situation on Monday is totally under control,” the spokesman said.

Agriculture and Co-operative Minister Dillip Sanghani visited the tragedy site and called on the injured in hospitals and family members of the deceased.
Various “Akhadas” of sadhus and saints assembled in the ancient temple decided to celebrate Mahashivratri with simplicity and not to take out the traditional procession through the town in view of the tragedy. Only a token procession was taken out from the Bhavnath temple.

The head priests of various “Akhadas” also called on the injured in various hospitals in Junagadh.

The Akhil Bharatiya Sadhu Samaj, the main organiser of the five-day fair at the temple for Mahashivratri, also announced a token assistance of Rs. 11,000 each to the deceased and Rs. 5,000 to the injured.

On Monday, one more person succumbed to the injuries at a Junagadh hospital taking the death toll in the stampede to seven. Six people were declared “brought dead” on Sunday.

The police believe the cause of the stampede to be a rumour that the brakes of a four-wheeler had failed in the jam-packed narrow Panj Naka bridge, the lone entrance to the temple with over 1.50 lakh pilgrims jostling with each other.
State Congress president Arjun Moadhwadia held the “inadequate security arrangements” at the traditional temple, where lakhs of devotees turn up for Mahashivratri, responsible for the incident. He also demanded a judicial probe and urged the State government to raise the immediate relief to the family members of the deceased to at least Rs. five lakh each and to the injured to Rs 50,000.

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