6 killed in N-24 Parganas temple stampede: Inform us of expected footfall, cops tell religious institutions

Kolkata: A day after six people were killed at the Loknath temple at Kachua in North 24 Parganas, the police and administration on Saturday said they were unaware that such a large number of people would visit the place and so, failed to make adequate arrangements. To prevent similar incidents in future, the police have directed the authorities of all religious institutions to inform them of the expected footfall ahead of any gathering.

According to police, over one lakh devotees had visited the Kochua temple on Friday to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Loknath Brahmachari.

"Ahead of any occasion, all religious institutions must inform the local police and administration about the expected footfall, to ensure that proper arrangements are made. We have informed this across the district," said a senior police official of North 24 Parganas.

As per reports, there was a continuous flow of devotees going in and out of the temple. But due to heavy rain, instead of going inside, people took shelter under temporary bamboo stalls set up outside the temple premises. At 2.15 am, when the rain stopped, thousands of people started walking on the narrow approach road to the temple.

There was a wall on one side of the road, while the makeshift stalls were on the other side. There was a pond behind the stalls. Suddenly, a portion of the wall collapsed, following which a few people fell into the pond. The situation created panic and people started running, thereby leading to the stampede.

"So far, six people have died. The condition of the injured people, who have been admitted to the hospital, is critical. They are undergoing treatment," said a government official.

Lack of proper crowd management led to Friday's stampede, claimed the mother of an injured girl, Varsha Biswas, a school student and resident of Basirhat. She has been admitted to the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) of National Medical College and Hospital.

"Varsha had gone to the temple with her aunt. When we got the stampede news, we started searching for her. Police informed us that she was admitted to the hospital. Doctors said she had been continuously vomiting, and so she has been kept in the ITU," said Basanti Biswas, Varsha's mother.

"I got to know that she was pushed from behind. As she fell on the ground, several people ran over her. She was unconscious when police rescued her. They took her to the hospital. Every year people gather there in large numbers, why was there no proper arrangement is shocking," said Basanti.

The incident took place early on Friday morning during the dual celebrations of Janmashthami and Baba Loknath's birth anniversary at the temple.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

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