The last ‘royal bath’ at the Maha Kumbh festival here turned into a tragedy on Wednesday. At least seven pilgrims, including a toddler, were killed when the car of a senior priest swerved out of control, causing a stampede on a rickety bridge.
Another 17 were injured in the incident, which took place when a procession of the Juna Akhara — the largest congregation of Naga sadhus — was moving towards Har Ki Pauri, the main bathing spot. The sadhus initiate the royal bath, followed by the pilgrims.
Uttarakhand CM Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to family of the deceased.
A probe has been ordered after some sadhus slammed the administration for poor management of the festival.
“Despite thousands of crores being spent by the mela administration to conduct the festival, traffic management is very poor. Basic amenities such as drinking water and toilets are not made available to the people,” said Shankaracharya Adhyokshjanand of Puri Peeth.