Nitish orders inquiry into 'Chhath puja' stampede

Anita Ghosh, 52, could not hold back her tears when mandarins of the Bihar government handed her a cheque for Rs 2 lakh as compensation for the death of her sister Usha, a victim of Monday’s stampede here.

“What can one do with a meagre sum of Rs 2 lakh? Instead of doling out relief, the government should have made proper arrangements at the ghats to avoid such incidents,” said Ghosh. “No senior health official could be found when her sister was gasping for breath.”

Amid a pall of gloom, the two-day Chhath festival concluded here on Tuesday, with devotees offering obeisance to the sun god early in the morning. At least 17 people, including nine children, lost their lives in a stampede at the Adalatganj ghat on Monday evening after a makeshift wooden bridge collapsed.

After Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked top officials to camp at the accident site, another bridge was erected late in the night as devotees who had offered obeisance in the evening had to pray at the same place the next morning.

The chief minister has asked Bihar Home Commissioner Amir Subhani to conduct an investigation into the stampede and submit a report at the earliest. “I express my deep condolences to the family of those killed,” said Shatrughan Sinha, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Patna Sahib, where the mishap occurred.

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