At least 24 people were killed and 50 others are injured in a stampede at Rajghat bridge between Varanasi and Chandauli. The mob had gathered for a religious event on Saturday afternoon.
The procession of Jai Gurudev ji with his followers was on their way to Domri village on the banks of Ganga to take part in the two day camp. Thousand of followers participated in the procession which created a chaos. There was a massive traffic jam due to the mob and while the procession moved downward from the Rajghat bridge, the stampede occurred causing death of people.
“There are many casualties and five of the injured people are said to be in critical condition”, says Kumar Prashant, District Magistrate Chandauli. The situation is being monitored and an inquiry will be initiated to figure out the cause of the stampede.
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This is not the first time we are seeing this kind of stampede, a year back in 2015 during Puri Rath Yatra, 2015, a stampede occurred between the market and Balagandi Chhaks areas, killing two women and injuring 20 others.
Few of the past incidents are: Puri Rath yatra, 2014 (22 killed), Ramnavmi celebration at Gandhi Maidan, Patna, 2014 (32 killed), Godavari Pushakaram, 2015 (27 killed). The death tolls are just number for the public, administration and the politicians.
There will be announcement of compensation like every other unfortunate events, but why not spend those money in taking precautionary measures. The stampedes are very common in our country and we forget about it after few days. Who is to blame for such unfortunate events: Disciples, Godman or Administration? The answer is everyone.
How can we fix the problem?
Prevention is better than the cure”. The Disaster Management Act, 2005, states that there should be a move from a reactive and responsive centric disaster management to a proactive and holistic one. Given below is a list of the best practices recommended by some international agencies, including the National Disaster Management Authority of India, to avoid stampedes and deaths thereby.
- The various stakeholders, that is, event organizers and event holders, local administration, police should sketch out, execute, review and revise the disaster plan in consultation with each other. This includes necessary approvals and updated administration about event schedule, venue, transport, medical, food, hygiene, and emergency facilities.
- The police should actively participate in venue assessment and preparedness checks and guide crowd and traffic movements. Event/venue managers can involve NGOs and civil defence in traffic control, people flow control, medical assistance, sanitation and mobilization of local resources in case of disaster.
- The latest and equitable methods of enforcing all laws governing events should be studied and implemented by City Council.
- Public education in crowd dynamics should be afforded equal importance to other safety programs by government, educational and public service agencies.
- Public should be educated by publicizing and enforcing house rules, local laws and by setting a courteous, professional standard of conduct by the personnel.
- Deployment of bee – line approach
- Constant monitoring of crowds for developing hazard points
- Alternative routes to release crowd pressure
- Accessibility of emergency exits at all times.
- There should be 3-4 meter gap in between rows of 5-6 shops, through which pilgrims can escape in case of unexpected rush.
- Discourage general admissions and have plans to handle VIP visitors or refuse VIPs where it adds to the safety concerns.
- A public address system, with loudspeakers installed at all crowded points.
- Since many religious places are located on top of hills or mountains, there can be separate tracks for pilgrims travelling by foot and those covering the journey on ponies/mules.