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A human stampede occurred on September 30, 2008, at the Chamunda Devi temple in Jodhpurmarker, Rajasthanmarker, Indiamarker, in which 249 people were killed and more than 400 injured. The 15th-century temple is dedicated to the goddess Chamunda Devi and is located within the premises of Mehrangarh Fortmarker.

About 25,000 Hindu pilgrims were visiting the temple to mark the first day of the nine day long Navratri, a major festival in Hinduism dedicated to Goddess worship and celebrated across the world.

Cause

Chamunda Devi Temple, the location of the stampede
The devotees scrambled towards the door the moment it opened, resulting in the destruction of the barricades. Many people were injured when they lost their footing on the slope approaching the temple.

According to The Times of India, local reports suggest that a bomb blast in nearby Mehrangarh created panic among the pilgrims resulting in the stampede. However, the BBC News reported that a collapsing wall may have also caused the stampede. Some eyewitnesses told CNN-IBN that a rumor about a bomb being planted in the temple caused panic among pilgrims.

Others said there was a scramble in the men's queue; some devotees slipped and soon there was a massive resultant stampede where a day of celebration turned into one of mourning.

An eyewitness also said that the path leading to the temple was very narrow with no emergency exit routes.

Aftermath

Television footage showed frantic people trying to revive unconscious devotees by compressing their chests. Param Jyoti, IPS, who was during the time of the incident Assistant Surperintendent of Police Jodhpur city said that of those dead, 30 bodies were brought to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital and 10 were taken to Mathura Das Hospital. Later on, more than 400 injured devotees were admitted in seven hospitals across Jodhpur. According to reports, there was a shortage of oxygen in local hospitals where the victims were treated.

Indian Army doctors were called to assist the local authorities in the relief operation. BJP's Rajnath Singh assured speedy relief to the victims of the tragedy.

Local authorities revealed that most of the dead were men as the queue for women was separate.

Reactions

Uttarakhandmarker Chief Minister B C Khanduri and Governor B L Joshi both expressed grief over the death of the pilgrims at the Chamunda Devi temple.

A Raj Bhavan statement issued a condolence message saying Joshi conveyed his deepest sorrow to the bereaved families of the dead and said he would pray for the speedy recovery of those injured in the incident.

Khanduri followed too in expressing grief over the accident. He also directed District Magistrates of all the 13 districts of his state to make special arrangements at religious places as they are expected to attract large crowds during the Navratra period.

Criticism

"The management of the temple and Mehrangarh fort had sealed all emergency exits. So there was no way my team could have evacuated the people from side entrances" says Malini Agarwal, SSP, Jodhpur City.

Bodies lay braided together and as Malini Agarwal, Senior Superintendent of police said, "We could not pull them out. It was as if they were joined together." It took Agarwal and her team nearly 90 minutes to clear the 100-yard stretch. The toll rose through the day but Agarwal believes that they were able to rescue more people than those who died.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has ordered an equiry on the incident and on DM Naresh Pal Gangwar and SSP Malini Agarwal. Both officeres have been withdrawn from their posts and are awaiting posting orders.

Malini Agarwal blames the Maharaja of Jodhpur for negligence on the part of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust which contributed greatly to the death toll. She states "The Jodhpur royal family’s insensitivity is out in the open. Soon after the stampede Mr. Gaj Singh and his queen went to worship at the temple. They have no sympathies with the public; otherwise they would have rushed to the hospital”

"There is not enough evidence to support that the administration is guilty. Keeping us on APO is just a trick by the CM to show the people of Jodhpur that she is looking into the incident. The tent that collapsed and the over-flowing of milk on the ramp, which caused the stampede is the fault of the Mehrangarh fort management and being a DM, if allowed to work fully, I could have taken them to court. But now it is obvious that the Maharaja of Jodhpur is more valued by the government than the people of Rajasthan and the officers serving the state" says Jodhpur collector and DM Naresh Pal Gangwar.

See also



References

  1. ap.google.com, Death toll rises to 249 in Indian temple stampede
  2. India stampede death toll rises, BBC News (October 2, 2008)
  3. Death toll in Jodhpur temple stampede rises to 224, Hindustan Times (October 3, 2008)


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