Closed exits led to stampede, say eyewitnesses

Closed exits led to stampede, say eyewitnesses

Hundreds of footwear lay strewn on a one-km stretch of road on the South-East corner of Gandhi Maidan here, bearing testimony to the tragedy that struck the people returning from Dussehra celebration on Friday.

Patnaites blamed the district police for keeping the exits shut for the revellers after the celebrations which led to the stampede.

The half-km stretch of the road from Gandhi Maidan to Exhibition Road and about same distance up to Kargil Chowk was littered with shoes, slippers and other objects abandoned by the fleeing crowd panicked by the rumours of a live overhead electricity wire falling on them.A reveller Manish Kumar, who runs a shop at Eastern Gandhi Maidan, claimed that he saw the stampede breaking out and said he will never be the same person again. “This image will haunt me for a long time to come.

“People were desperately jostling with each other to exit from only two out of the 11 gates at the sprawling maidan kept open for the purpose,” Kumar said. “Panic gripped the people after some youths shouted ‘bhago bhago’ triggering stampede as scores of helpless women and children fell down and got trampled under the feet of crowd running for their lives. I could not rescue them... could have been women of my family and my sons/daughters,” he said.

Kumar, in his mid-20s, slammed the police for making inadequate security arrangements for the people, particularly for their exit after the conclusion of “Ravan Vadh,” saying that no police personnel was present on the southern side of the Gandhi Maidan to regulate traffic and movement of people.

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