Mismanagement, huge rush caused stampede in Vaishno Devi: Eyewitnesses
Jammu: Overcrowding and lack of supervision by authorities led to the stampede at the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu & Kashmir’s Katra that left 12 dead in the wee hours of Saturday, according to eyewitnesses.
Also Read | At least 12 killed during Vaishno Devi stampede
At least 12 people died and over a dozen were injured in a stampede at the Vaishno Devi shrine triggered by a heavy rush of devotees on the New Year. This is the first such tragedy at the shrine located atop the Trikuta hills, about 50 km from Jammu.
Soon after the incident, local residents, pilgrims and members of the Baridar Sangharsh Samiti staged a massive protest at the Katra bus stand, demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and framing of charges against the shrine administration under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
“This is really very unfortunate that on New Year so many pilgrims died. The administration and shrine board authorities are responsible for it. There must be a fair probe into the entire incident, which is not possible by the panel constituted by the LG. The Centre should form a panel. Had there been proper management, there would not have been so many deaths,” said Sham Singh, president of the Baridar Sangharsh Samiti.
Most of the deaths were due to suffocation, police said.
Director general of police Dilbag Singh, who accompanied Union minister Jitendra Singh to take stock of the situation at the shrine, told reporters that the incident took place due to confusion or “probably somebody at the site acted funny which could have led to some altercation”.
“People who got admitted here are stable. We may add some technical solutions for the yatra (pilgrimage). Earlier, people used to visit the shrine during festivals but nowadays youngsters want to visit the shrine on the 1st day of the year,” said Jitendra Singh.
“All these things are being looked into. That area is a little narrow and people ran helter-skelter without knowing the reason,” Dilbag Singh said. “Most of the deaths have taken place due to suffocation after being run over by each other and most of the injuries are also due to the same reason.”
(WITH AGENCY INPUTS)