BARMER: Balotra in Barmer district of Rajasthan was in mourning on Monday, a day after 15 people were killed when a pandal fell during a religious event. Seventy people were reported injured.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met the families of the deceased and injured on Monday.
Gehlot said that the guilty would not be spared and the government would issue an advisory to prevent such incidents in future.
Eyewitnesses narrated frightful tales of the incident, saying that everyone was engrossed in the Ram Katha when a thunderstorm lifted the pandal up to 20 feet in the air and then it fell on the people.
Chaos ensued, and the electric current flowing through the iron pipes supporting the pandal caused the most damage.
“The wind speed was 80-100 kmph. In a couple of minutes, the entire pandal got demolished. Nobody got a chance to escape as the current in the wires electrocuted them. The person standing in front of me died in pain,” said Chandan Singh, a Balotra resident who was inside the pandal.
Another local, Devaram, who was also there, said, “Because of the rain the iron poles acted as electric conductors and whoever touched them got a shock. Three people died in front of me. We shouted for the electrical supply to be shut down and some youths bravely pulled the wires.”
But sources said that after the power supply was cut, two generators became operational, and thus the electric current was maintained.
Power department officer Sonaram Chaudhary said that no separate power connection had been taken for the event.
The Katha narrator, Murlidhar Maharaj, is famous in Marwar, and his events attract large crowds.
Despite this, the administration did not take stock of safety measures for the event.
Gehlot meets the injured in hospital
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot reached Jasol from Jaipur in the morning. He inquired about the injured in the hospital. It has been decided to give Rs 5 lakh to the dependents of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to the injured.
Divisional Commissioner, Jodhpur, BL Kothari and Inspector General of Police, Jodhpur Range, Sachin Mittal have begun investigations into the incident.