The mood of celebrations turned into one of mourning as nearly 60 devotees were feared killed and more than 100 persons injured in a stampede at a temple in Datia district, 70 km from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, on Sunday morning.
“Between 50 and 60 people have died and over 100 injured. The toll is likely to rise,” said deputy inspector general (DIG) Chambal range, DK Arya.
As many as 50,000 devotees had gathered at the Ratangarh temple in Datia district on the occasion of Mahanavmi on Sunday.
According to eyewitnesses, the stampede apparently occurred after policemen resorted to lathicharge to control the swell of devotees on a bridge leading to the temple. Some of the devotees fell into the Sindh river as they ran towards the bridge on the river.
However, the police has claimed that the lathicharge did not result in the stampede, as per TV reports.
Police sources said the death toll could be much higher. The injured have been rushed to a hospital in nearby Seondha town. The GRMC Hospital in Gwalior has also been informed and a team of 12 doctors from there have been sent to the spot.
After the incident, tension prevailed in the area as angry people started pelting stones at the police. There was a huge traffic jam on way to the temple and, as a result, relief work was hampered.
Inspector-general of police (Chambal range) SM Afzal and the DIG immediately rushed to the spot and asked for more enforcement of police personnel which is expected to reach the area in another half an hour. Police sources said an inquiry has also been ordered into the incident.
The state government has sought the Election Commission's nod (as model code of conduct is in force in the state for the coming assembly elections) to airlift the severely injured victims. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced compensation of Rs. 1.5 lakh to kin of the dead after taking permission from the EC.