The stampede in Jharkhand's Deoghar town that claimed at least 11 lives early Monday was triggered after hundreds of eager pilgrims tried to enter the famous Baidyanath Temple at once, Kaartik Mishra, one of the head priests of the temple, said.
"People had queued up for the early morning prayers since Sunday night. When the gate of the temple opened at 4 a.m. today (Monday), hundreds of people tried to rush into the temple which caused a commotion.
"Police present at the spot then resorted to a mild baton charge to control the crowd which led to the stampede," Mishra told IANS over phone from Deoghar. He said more than 60-70 people were injured in the incident, adding that the religious fervour among the pilgrims "continues to be the same".
"Even after the stampede thousands of people are queued up to worship Lord Shiva," he said. The temple has a very narrow entrance which was one of the reasons for the stampede, he added. "The entrance gate to the main temple is very narrow which allows only one-two persons to enter at a time. Crowds have always been an issue for the temple authorities here."
Deoghar is 300 km from here. During Shravan month of the Hindu calendar, more than 30 lakh people offer prayers at the Baidyanath Temple. On Mondays, the number goes up substantially and around two lakh people offer prayers.
All the injured have been admitted to Sadar hospital in Deoghar for treatment, Deputy Commissioner Amit Kumar said, adding the stampede was a result of a "large crowd gathering".