Some 115 pilgrims, mostly women and children, have been killed in a stampede at a Hindu festival in central India and more than 100 injured in a stampede on narrow bridge to the historic Ratangarh temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday. This is shocking re-run of the 2006 tragedy at the same site when 50 pilgrims were dead.
The bridge over the swollen Sindh river, which leads to the temple was chock-a-block with over one lakh devotees from Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring UP on auspicious Navami day. The bridge is 400 metres long and less than 7 metres wide.
Swirling rumours about an imminent collapse of the bridge after a police lathicharge on devotees triggered panic. While scores of pilgrims were trampled, others were drowned after jumping into the swollen river. Bodies lay sprawled on the bridge even as rescue teams from Gwalior were delayed due to battered roads and a 10-km traffic jam.There were only nine constables and a sub-inspector manning the over-lakh crowd on the 500-metre long bridge when the tragedy took place.
A judicial enquiry has been ordered by Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan. The government has also declared a compensation of Rs. 1.5 lakhs for families of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for those seriously injured.