Thursday, August 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

39 killed in Nashik Kumbh stampede
S. Iyer

Two relatives of a stampede victim cry in a Nashik hospital on Wednesday, 187 km north of Mumbai.
Relatives of a stampede victim cry at a hospital in Nashik on Wednesday. — AFP photo

Pilgrims rush for a bath at the Kumbh Mela in Nashik on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Anxious relatives of the pilgrims throng the Civil Hospital in Nasik
Anxious relatives of pilgrims throng the Civil Hospital in Nashik on Wednesday. —  PTI photo 

Mumbai, August 27
At least 39 worshippers, including 26 women, died after fellow devotees trampled upon them at the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Nashik, the police said.

The stampede occurred around 1.30 this afternoon when the rush of people on a warren of narrow streets caused the barricades at a gully near the Kalaram temple to give way.

All victims were brought dead to hospitals, officials said from Nashik. Rescue operations were affected due to the rush of people on the narrow roads that made movement of ambulance and police vehicles difficult.

Though the exact picture is still unclear, eyewitnesses told television networks that devotees scrambled for money being thrown at them by sadhus. The resulting commotion caused several women and elderly devotees to fall down on the ground, it is reported. The roads in this ancient temple town are less than six feet wide at several places.

According to Nashik Commissioner Vimlendra Mishra, the injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital there. Most of the dead and injured were from North India, mainly UP and Bihar, Mr Mishra told reporters.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minster Chhagan Bhujbal told reporters that the situation was worsened when pilgrims broke barricades to reach the bathing ghats earlier.

The Deputy Chief Minister announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to next of kin of killed and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. Those with minor injuries would be paid Rs 10,000 each.

In all, nearly 70 lakh persons have converged on Nashik to participate in the Kumbh Mela, according to police officials here.

The number of injured is more than 175, though most of them have suffered only minor injuries, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Kripashankar Singh told reporters at Nashik.

Wednesday’s shahi snan is considered to be auspicious due to astrological reasons with the planetary configuration occurring in a pattern that is repeated just once in 6,000 years.


Sonia expresses grief over Kumbh mishap
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 27
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has expressed grief at the loss of lives in a stampede at the Kumbh mela in Nashik.

In a statement, Mrs Gandhi said the past week had been painful for the nation, especially for Maharashtra, which suffered another tragedy only two days earlier.

She said such stampedes were sadly a recurring feature at the country's most holy and auspicious events. "These tragedies are all the more cruel because these are avoidable and because their victims are devout and innocent pilgrims," she said. "Stringent rules need to be imposed by the authorities concerned to control the flow of crowds. To do this, cooperation of pilgrims is also needed," she said.

Mrs Gandhi conveyed her condolences to the members of the bereaved families.

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