RAJAHMUNDRY: Pending the announcement of the promised judicial probe into the stampede that had occurred at the Pushkar Ghat here on July 14 - the first day of the recent Godavari Maha Pushkaralu, the police have started a preliminary inquiry into the tragedy, it is learnt.
It may be mentioned here that immediately after the stampede, which had led to the death of 29 pilgrims and injuries to several others, the government had said that it would order a judicial inquiry by a retired high court judge into the tragedy. However, the government is yet to do so, notwithstanding the criticism by the opposition parties that it was apathetic to the tragedy.
Meanwhile, Amalapuram Deputy Superintendent of Police L Ankaiah is reported to have quietly begun a preliminary inquiry into the incident and has so far interrogated 150 persons, including the family members of the deceased, eye-witness, Municipal Commissioner of Rajahmundry, etc. The inquiry officer, who has also obtained the footage of the incident from the feed provided by closed-circuit cameras at the spot of the tragedy, is yet to question the revenue, police and municipal officials who were on duty at the Pushkar Ghat at that time.
The reason for the stampede is suspected to be the sudden surge of pilgrims into the Pushkar Ghat area for a holy dip in the river Godavari -- after a two-hour wait for the departure of Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu and his family from there.
When Express contacted Ankaiah in this regard, he confirmed that he was probing the incident and added that he would submit his inquiry report to the government at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Forum state president Muppalla Subba Rao and leaders of several other organizations are demanding a judicial inquiry into the stampede as they feel that the police inquiry is just a perfunctory exercise.