Two dead, over 130 injured during Rath Yatra in Odisha

Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi announced ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, identified as Lalit Bagarti of Balangir district, and expressed his condolences.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 08:51 IST

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Puri: At least two persons died and over 130 were injured in two different incidents during Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra in Odisha, officials said on Monday.

A resident of Bolangir district died allegedly due to suffocation in a stampede-like situation on Sunday during the Rath Yatra in Puri, a health official said.

"When we put him in the ambulance, his pulse was running. We took him to the hospital and gave him CPR. However, doctors declared him brought dead," said Sushant Kumar Patnaik, assistant commandant of St John ambulance service.

According to sources, the devotee fainted on Grand Road while pulling the chariot of Lord Balabhadra. He was immediately rushed to the Puri District Headquarters Hospital, where the doctor declared him brought.

Expressing grief over his death, Odisha Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi announced ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased.

He also instructed officials concerned to ensure the best available medical care for the injured devotees.

In another incident, a devotee allegedly died after coming under the wheels of a chariot during Rath Yatra in Jharsuguda district on Sunday, police said.

The mishap occurred during the pulling of the chariot of Jagannath temple at Kukujangha village in the district. The deceased has been identified as Shyam Sundar Kishan (45).

While pulling the chariot, he accidentally fell down and the wheels of the chariot ran over him. He was immediately rushed to the district headquarters hospital, where he died while undergoing treatment.

More than 130, including a few police personnel, were also injured during the Rath Yatra in Puri, a health officer of Puri district said.

Half of the injured persons have been discharged after treatment on the same day while at least 40 persons are undergoing treatment, he said.

More than 600 people have visited hospitals and medical camps in Puri. However, only over 130 have been admitted to hospital, said Director of Health Services, Bijay Mohapatra.

"Such admission in hospital during Rath Yatra is normal. None of the injured is in very serious condition. We are providing treatment to the injured devotees," he said.

After visiting the hospital on Sunday night, Revenue Minister Suresh Pujari said, "One person died while many others were admitted after sustaining injuries in stampede, dehydration, dysentery and other reasons. No one is serious."

As hot and humid weather was prevailing in Puri on Sunday, many people suffered in the hot weather condition also, he said.

The doctors and other medical staff along with volunteers have performed an excellent job, said the minister, adding, "We hope that the injured people will be discharged from the hospital by Monday evening."

Meanwhile, the pulling of chariots of Lord Jagannath and his siblings—Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra resumed on Monday around 9.30 am.

Amid chants of Hari Bol and Jay Jagannath, sounds of gongs, conches and cymbals, the chariots of three holy deities are being pulled towards their destination at Shree Gundicha Temple on Monday after being stranded for the night on the Grand Road here.

This year, the Rath Yatra in Puri is being celebrated for two days after 53 years due to some celestial arrangements.

In a departure from tradition, some of the rituals, including 'Nabajouban Darshan' and 'Netra Utsav', were conducted in a single day on Sunday. These rituals are generally held ahead of the Rath Yatra.

'Nabajouban Darshan' means youthful appearance of deities, who were behind the doors for 15 days in a ritual called 'Anasara' (quarantine), conducted after 'Snana Purnima'.

According to mythology, the deities fall ill due to excessive bathing on 'Snana Purnima' and therefore remain indoors.

Prior to 'Nabajouban Darshan', the priests performed the special ritual called 'Netra Utsav' in which the eyeballs of the deities are painted afresh.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place, with the deployment of 180 platoons (one platoon comprises 30 personnel) of security personnel, a police officer said.

Artificial Intelligence-based CCTV cameras have been installed at Badadanda, the venue of the festival, and other strategic locations in the pilgrim town, he said.

Altogether 46 fire tenders were deployed in various parts of the town and along the sea beach for the Rath Yatra, said DG, Fire Services, Sudhanshu Sarangi.

Published 07 July 2024, 14:49 IST

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