KOLKATA: Three pilgrims, including a woman, were killed and 25 injured in a stampede-like situation near a temple in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district on Friday.
Sources in the state administration, however, said unofficially that three more persons succumbed to their injuries later after they were taken to the hospital.
The incident took place in front of Kachua Lokenath temple where thousands of pilgrims turned up on the occasion of Janmashtami. “Around 3 am, it started raining heavily. Some of the pilgrims took shelter under makeshift bamboo structures of stalls on the approach of the temple, while others started running towards the shed of the temple. The devotees panicked when few people fell into a road-side pond which triggered the stampede-like situation,’’ said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed in the mishap. Families of critically injured would be given Rs 1 lakh while others with minor injuries would get Rs 50,000, she said.
Food and supplies minister Jyotipriya Mullick said an investigation would be conducted to ascertain whether the temple committee’s negligence had any role to play behind the incident.
“The role of police will also be looked into. The superintendent of police has been asked to go through the nature and extent of police arrangement in and around the temple premises,’’ Mullick said.
“There were barricades put up on the approach road which were broken when thousands of people started running towards the sheds of the temple. Some small vehicles carrying pilgrims also entered the approach road which had reduced the space for those who were walking,’’ said one member of the temple committee.
Mamata visited SSKM Hospital and National Medical College and Hospital where the injured persons were admitted.
“Injured were rescued promptly after the mishap. I am personally monitoring the situation,’’ she said.
Eyewitnesses though, said police did not act promptly after the incident.
“I was among those who fell into the roadside pond. I sought help from policemen but they told me to come out of the pond on my own,’’ said Suman Bhattacharya, one of the pilgrims.