Ranchi: A stampede outside the world-famous Baidyanath Dham temple in Deoghar district, 350 km from here, left around 11 pilgrims dead and over 50 injured in the early hours of Monday.
It is said that the pilgrims were waiting outside the temple for it to open which is usually at around 4:30am. As soon as the temple opened, pilgrims rushed towards the temple in an effort to be ahead of others in offering prayers, which led to the stampede.
Police spokesperson S N Pradhan confirmed 10 deaths. “Nine male and one female have died. Around 50 people have been injured.” Local officials however said 11 pilgrims died.
“The pilgrims were waiting in a queue throughout the night at Belbagan, 3km from the temple. They went indisciplined in the morning. Over 5000 pilgrims were in the queue. They were exhausted by the night long wait and wanted to reach the temple fast in the morning,” a government official said.
Deoghar deputy commissioner Amit Kumar said over one lakh pilgrims visit the temple on Mondays during the holy month of Sawan. People consider Mondays pious. “The temple draws people from all parts of the country and largest foot-falls are reported on Monday,” Kumar said.
A source said the pilgrims who died in the stampede were from Nepal, Bihar, UP and some different parts of Jharkhand. The individual details of the pilgrims were not available with the authorities.
Chief minister Raghubar Das expressed grief over the incident and directed the authorities to provide better medical care to the injured. According to reports, the chief minister has also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The incident, however, exposed the poor arrangement at the temple. “The stampede occurred outside the campus of the temple where crowd control is not as tough as inside the campus,” a priest of the temple said.