It seems that the authority took no cue from the Elphinstone road stampede last month in Mumbai. Now, several kilometers away, Begusarai too witnessed similar kind of incident earlier today at Simaria ghat as incident of a fresh stampede come to the fore.
Lots of people went to take a holy dip at Simaria Ghat to mark the occasion of Kartik Purnima. Just then a stampede happened. It left three women died with several others injured. The police are investing the real cause of stampede.
Local media claimed rumours might have led to such disaster. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar immediately announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs. four Lakh to the kin of the deceased.
Kartik Purnima is a big festival in North India and several people take a holy dip in a river. It marks the day of Lord Vishnu’s arrival to earth in the form of a (matsya) fish. Every year, massive crowds turn up for the occasion.
Then how could the authority failed to anticipate the crowd and didn’t arrange proper security measures on the spot? With no emergency help in sight, many locals started rendering help to the injured people at this tough time.
Religious Occasions and Stampedes: What’s the Correlation?
Religious occasions have nothing to do with stampedes, but government’s ill-preparedness for big events has. An unexplained fear looms over the devotee’s fate each time they go to an overcrowded spot to mark a festive occasion.
The recent stampedes at Begusarai’s Simaria Ghat, Elphinston road or the last year’s Samagan of Jai Baba Guru Dev in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, collectively took away several lives within a fraction of minutes. However, the authority doesn’t have any concrete measure to tackle such crises anywhere in India as yet.
Ideally, security arrangement should be such that an adequate number of police and fire personnel with emergency medical services should be present on the spot. Contrarily, no such things are visible at real venues.
Recent Religious Stampedes At Glance In India
1) Puttingal Devi Temple (Kollam) Tragedy: In April 2016, the temple-fire tragedy left moré than 100 dead and 300 injured.
2) Ujjain Simhastha Mela Tragedy: Around 10 people died and more than 100 people injured due to a stampede last year.
3) Varanasi Stampede: 24 people were killed and 36 injured at Varanasi stampede on 15th October 2016.
4) Rajamundry Godavari (Pushkar Mela) Tragedy: Around 30 people were declared dead and 60 injured on 14/07/2015 at Rajamundry stampede.
5) Ramleela Stampede (Patna): More than 32 people were killed and 26 injured in a gruesome Patna stampede on 03/10/2014 during Ramnavmi.
6) Ratangarh Temple Stampede (Datia): On 13th October 2013, this stampede is the most horrific one killing more than 110 people with several injured.
7) Begusarai Stampede: Around 3 women were dead and a dozen injured at Begusarai’s Simaria Ghat today on the occasion of Kartik Purnima.
Who is Responsible for the Loss of so Many Innocent lives?
The baseless rumors lead to stampede as people try to run over each other at the same time leading to a massive chaos including loss of several lives and property. The Police should deal Rumor mongering with iron hand, and people engaging in such activities should be brought to book.
However, mere shifting of the entire blame to a single person or rumour mongers isn’t enough. The organisers and the system are equally responsible for any such mishap. The system needs to behave with more caution and maturity during any such event.
Law enforcement agencies should appropriately scrutinize the whole site to rule out any chance of imminent disaster. With several stampedes taking place near bridges as we saw last month during Mumbai’s Elphistone Road stampede, it is high time to erect and rectify the age-old bridges throughout the country.
Authorities responsible for the task can’t turn deaf years to the requests of the people demanding repair of the old bridges or creation of newer ones.
Preventing Religious Stampedes in India, Checklist at a Glance
1) Only Security personnel should guard the religious gatherings.
2) The authority should maintain the contact details of all entrants in a register or computer database.
3) The authority should also crate one or two emergency exit points to meet any emergency situations if needed.
4) CCTV installation must take place wherever a huge crowd is expected to gather.
Follow NDMA Guidelines to Avert Stampede
Moreover, the authorities must implement the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) guidelines for crowd management during any religious event or following any mishap in the form of stampede to prevent any further casualty and chaos.
(By: Atish Home Chowdhury)
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