Two die in village festival stampede

Two die in village festival stampede

Two people died in a stampede at the Malamalleshwara festival, in Devaragudda village in Andhra Pradesh (AP), on the border with the State near Neranaki village in the taluk on Saturday.

The victims are Mahesh (16) from Hadligi village in Bellary taluk and Ranga Reddy (65) from Alur village in AP. 

Thousands of devotees had attended the festival that went on from Friday midnight to early Saturday morning. The annual fete, that attracts thousands from the State and AP, involves devotees duelling with long sticks. 

According to the police, two groups started throwing stones at each other, leading to a stampede. The AP police resorted to a mild caning and fired in the air to bring the situation under control. During the festival, devotees carry an idol of the deity in a palanquin to a temple located atop a hillock and consecrate the idol there. Then they descend from the hill, shouting slogans in praise of the deity and hitting the ground with long sticks and duelling. 

This practice is followed regardless of injuries.