Stampede in Patna, 33 killed

Dasara celebrations turn tragic

Stampede in Patna, 33 killed

At least 33 people died and 29 injured in Friday’s stampede outside Gandhi Maidan after Dasara celebrations here. 

This triggered allegations and counter allegations among authorities and prompted the Bihar government to order an inquiry into the incident.

Union minister Ramvilas Paswan said the “lapses” of the Bihar government led to the tragedy, an allegation which was denied by Patna district administration.

Principal Secretary (Home), Amir Subhani said that Friday’s toll of 32 went up to 33 with the death of one more person on Saturday. The injured — 17 women and 12 men — have been admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital. Of them, the condition of four was critical, he said.

Subhani, along with Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey, has been appointed by Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to inquire into the incident. Thousands of people had gathered to watch the annual event at the historic Gandhi Maidan where several pockets were reportedly dimly lit when the stampede broke out. 

The cause of the accident is yet to be known. An ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh has been announced to the next of the kin of the each dead.

LJP president Paswan, while blaming the state government for the “lapses”, held rival parties JD(U), RJD and Congress “accountable” for the tragedy. He visited Gandhi Maidan with LJP MP and his son Chirag Paswan and “trashed” the inquiry ordered by the state government. Paswan demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Patna High Court.

“It’s nothing but ‘lipa poti’ (eyewash). What will they inquire when the people know that an insensitive state government made no arrangement for such a big event of ‘Ravana vadh’ which is watched every year by a huge mass of people,” he said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh telephoned Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi again on Saturday morning and promised all help.

State Health Minister Ramdhani Singh, who came to the hospital to visit the injured, had to beat a hasty retreat after facing the ire of the relatives. When the minister came out of the hospital, a group of angry relatives of the victims thronged his car and shouted, “Why are you coming here after 16 hours?” 

Meanwhile, the Patna district administration replied to charges of ignorance. District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma said: “People appear to have died due to suffocation.” 

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