A two-man committee probing the Gandhi Maidan stampede has pointed to inadequate lighting and obstructions at the exit gate as the main reasons for the tragedy that killed 33 people on Friday, sources told HT.
The committee, consisting of principal home secretary Amir Shubhani and additional director general, headquarters (ADG-Hq), Gupteshwar Pandey, met the injured and later visited the Maidan and its adjoining areas.
Patna stampede: lessons learnt and unlearnt
“It has observed that the exit gate was loosely fastened with a cattle trap, which proved to be an impediment as many women were caught up in it. A ditch nearby, proved to be fatal as many fell into it,” sources quoted the panel members as having said.
The team also went through CCTV footages to study the stampede and gather clues.
The state government has already declared an ex-gratia amount of R3 lakh to the next of kin of the dead each, while the Centre has declared another R2 lakh in compensation.
Police officials told HT, that once the chief minister left after the ceremony ended, the SSP and his escort also left with him as per protocol. The district magistrate and the magistrates also left with the sections of armed police, which the administration claims was ‘as per protocol’, leaving only the lathi wielding constables on the grounds.
Meanwhile, the incident set off a blame game with politicians holding the state government responsible. Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, besides state BJP leaders felt that the administration had no system in place, which caused the tragedy. They demanded the resignation of chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Paswan attacked the JD(U) for allegedly failing to put in place measures to prevent the tragedy saying, “There was no security, no lighting, one gate was open while more than five lakh people were present there and the police was there only to rain lathis on the hapless people.”
The BJP also decided to send a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee while the Centre has also asked for a report from the state government.