Official admits failure over stampede deaths

Ranchi, Aug 11 (IANS) A Jharkhand government official has admitted administrative failure in handling the rush of devotees at Deoghar that led to a stampede leaving 11 people dead.

A three-member probe team headed by Additional Chief Secretary N.N. Pandey submitted its initial report on the Monday tragedy to the government.

“The initial report indicates administrative failure … causing the stampede,” an official source told IANS.

Based on the initial probe, the government suspended four officials including Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Amit Kumar, Superintendent of Police P. Murugan, civil surgeon Diwakar Kamat and regional deputy director of health services Shiva Shankar Prasad.

According to residents, around 3,000 to 5,000 devotees had gathered near Belabagan in Deoghar district and some queues were over 10 km long.

Around 4.30 a.m. on Monday, some devotees shouted that the temple door was open. Immediately, some devotees started running towards the temple after breaking the queue.

There was no light and the devotees ran over the sleeping devotees, causing chaos.

The situation worsened when police used batons. Eventually, 11 people were killed and more than 50 injured.

Four of the seriously injured were flown to Ranchi for treatment.

The devotees walk with Ganga water from Sultanganj in Bihar to the Baba Baidhyanath Shiva temple at Deogarh, a distance of around 110 km.

Every year more than 30 lakh devotes reach Deoghar.

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