PATNA: Responding to the Opposition demand, the Bihar government on Saturday set up a committee to investigate the stampede at the Gandhi Maidan here. One more person died on Saturday bringing the toll to 33. Over 100 people injured in the mishap.
The probe panel comprises ADGP Gupteshwar Pandey and Home Commissioner Amir Subhani, both of whom are believed to be in the good books of Jitan Ram Manjhi-led JD(U) Government in the state.
The people, though, have few expectations from the committee since probe teams have never held anyone accountable for any mishap in the past.
The state capital has witnessed several stampedes over the last couple of years. On November 19, 2012 during Chhath Puja, a similar stampede had occurred at Adalatgunj Ghat here when a commotion resulted in the death of 18 people. However,the inquiry committee set up in its aftermath failed to fix the blame since it was quite clear that the mishap was largely due to the administration’s failure to control the crowd on the makeshift bridge over the Ganga. Even the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) was unable to cope with the medical emergency resulting from the mishap.
Even though it is almost two years since the Adalatgunj tragedy, apparently no lessons have been learnt. Not only that, the authorities have remained tight-lipped on why nobody had been held responsible for the tragedy. But everyone, including the media were roused from their lull on Friday evening and they dug up old issues questioning what had happened to the probe reports submitted on similar tragedies in the state. Had the media taken up these issues, the administration would have been compelled to take steps to avert similar mishaps.
A catastrophe was prevented during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s October 27 Hunkar Rally, which had witnessed serial blasts inside and outside the venue, due to better understanding of the situation by the organisers.Even on that occasion, instead of ensuring the safety of the people by looking into minor lapses that could trigger a stampede at Gandhi Maidan, the administration was caught napping.
But Saturday’s loss of precious lives clearly goes to show that lessons have not been learnt, which resulted in some five lakh people jostling with one another to exit the venue through the two gates, while the whole administration was deployed on VVIP duty.