DEOGHAR, JHARKHAND: At least 11 people have been killed and 20 injured in a stampede near a temple in Jharkhand’s Deoghar, a town where similar incidents have taken place in the past.
The stampede took place early this morning close to a temple of Goddess Durga, where thousands had lined up for a ritual.
The police said a crowd started building up at 2 am and snaked through lanes near the temple. In two hours, it had swelled to over one lakh.
Officials at the spot tried to organize the crowd but the surge turned chaotic when at 5 am, people heard that the temple gates were finally opening and started jumping the queue.
The police reportedly used batons to try and control the mass but failed.
Those sleeping in the kilometres-long queue were trampled as others pushed towards the doors, SN Pradhan, additional director general of police in Jharkhand, said.
“Many tried to rush to the head of the queue which led to chaos and as some of them fell, the devotees got trampled,” Mr Pradhan said.
Chief Minister Raghubar Das has ordered an inquiry and announced compensation. He denied that police action exacerbated the situation. “There was no lathi-charge. I haven’t heard of any such thing,” he told NDTV.
Thousands of devotees flock to the area every year in August to offer holy water from the river Ganga to Lord Shiva at the town’s famous Baidyanath temple.
The town sees the maximum crowd on Monday; last week around a lakh people had converged at the temple. The district administration had held a review meeting of arrangements on Sunday.
In August 2007, at least five women were killed and 11 injured in a stampede at the Baidyanath temple.
A stampede on the banks of a holy river killed at least 27 pilgrims last month in Rajahmundry, on the border of the southern twin states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
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