More than 100 pilgrims are killed on October 13, 2013 and more than 100 others injured in a stampede at the Hindu temple in Ratangarh town in Datia district in Madhya Pradesh state as worshippers tried to cross a bridge across the Sindh River.
Police said many of those killed in the stampede on Sunday had died after leaping off the bridge in a bid to escape the panic sparked by fears that the structure was about to collapse.
Witnesses said the situation was then exacerbated by police wading into the crowds with baton sticks, a charge denied by police.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the condolences for the victims, which reports said included 31 women and 17 children. “On this day of festivities, our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Singh said in a statement.
Up to 400,000 devotees were already inside or around the temple in Datia district, which is about 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of the state capital Bhopal, when the stampede took place.
The disaster in Datia comes only seven years after another stampede outside the same temple when more than 50 people were crushed to death while crossing the river, after which authorities built the bridge.
Google Images of Ratangarh temple and location of incidence (Google Earth)
“So far, we have received reports of 115 deaths in the stampede,” Deputy inspector general (DIG) D K Arya told PTI from Ratangarh. The DIG said a number of people, who had carried away the bodies of their near and dear ones, are now turning up for autopsy, which is mandatory for taking compensation.
The state government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the mishap.
Datia district’s chief medical officer (CMO) R S Gupta said that autopsies on 111 bodies were conducted till morning.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Collector of Datia and three other top district officials were suspended yesterday over the alleged lapse in connection with the stampede which left 139 dead and more than 100 injured. The four officials were suspended after getting the nod from the Election Commission as the state is under the Model Code of Conduct following announcement of assembly polls. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has already announced the setting up of a judicial commission to probe the stampede. The Commission headed by a sitting High Court judge, will submit its report within two months and its recommendations will be implemented within 15 days after the state government gets the report.