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Home > News > Report

Temple tragedy: A brawl led to stampede

Vijay Singh in Satara | January 27, 2005 00:48 IST
Last Updated: January 27, 2005 13:18 IST

Reports appearing in a section of the media that the deadly Mandhardevi temple stampede [the first wave] that occurred on January 25 was due to an act of arson by a few pilgrims seem to be untrue.

The Additional District Magistrate of Satara, W V Kambholkar, said on Wednesday that the chief cause of the tragedy lay in the cramped spaces coupled with the unusually massive number of pilgrims this year.

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There were two stampedes

The dead and injured were lying in heaps

The short circuit theory, which was circulated on the day of the stampede, also lost ground on Wednesday.

The second stampede did occur when angry relatives of victims pelted stones on shopkeers and set some of the stalls on fire.

The official take a day after the incident and eyewitness accounts bolster thefact that the stampede started with a minor skirmish among devotees in the temple premises.

Rajendra Maruti (32) came to Mandhardevi temple from Kolhapur. Here's his version of the incident.

"I was standing in a queue in front of the temple. Suddenly I saw two groups shoving and fighting each other.

Then more and more people were sucked into the skirmish and it blew up into a huge brawl.

Many devotees slipped and fell on the wet and oily temple stairs.

Some of these people were drunk.

Women and children panicked and this led to more desperation. People tried to run in various directions trampling others in the process.

I fell down during the melee. I was lucky that I fell close to temple wall, which saved me.

I sustained injuries on my body, but none on the head. I was crushed under the weight of some 50 people.

After a few minutes everything become calm again.

Some people helpedme get out of the mangle of dead bodies.

I was taken to an open space, where I was attended to by a doctor.

After that I blanked out. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in an ambulance which took me to a government hospital."

Suryakant Mardane (43) is a police constable attached to Medha police station in Satara. He was posted at Mandhardevi on special duty on the fateful day. Here's what he had to say.

"I was posted at the temple gate. As I was watching the huge crowd of devotees move, I saw a person carrying an idol of the goddess fall down. The people with him blamed another group forit and they started pushing each other.

A fight erupted. I could see them clearly, but could not reach them because of the huge number of people.

People startedshoving and one devotee fell onto an electric wire in a shop.

By thenthe devotees must have thought some big fight had erupted near the temple and started running blindly into each other.

I rushed into the temple.

By the time people calmed down, many were dead or injured. I joined some others in helping the injured and separating the dead bodies.

As we were going about our work,a groupsuddenly looked at the dead lying around and started abusing the police and temple staff.

Theystartedbeating us up, and more joined in. We were outnumbered, so we started to rush out.

The angry mobunleashed their fury on the shops and set some of them ablaze.

One manpulled me aside and told me to shed my uniform and gave me another dress to wear, saying that he would kill me otherwise.

I was badly injured, so were other police officers on the spot. A few police constables were also admitted to hospital.

More reports from Maharashtra
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Number of User Comments: 8

Sub: comment

whatever happened was very unfortunate. I think that if people were drunknk then we should make arrangments for stooping them at the enterance. It is ...

Posted by shruti

Sub: A brawl Led to stampede

The news here tells us the pity of being a human.A man when in anger cannot think of anything else.A few people fought just for ...

Posted by Shivanand

Sub: The Stampede at Mandhardevi Hills

Dear All, Its very sad that we laost hundreds of devotees, in the pilgrimage. Several theories are emerging out while assessing the cause of the ...

Posted by Sagar Paradkar

Sub: Madness

This is madness. I do not know when our masses will learn discipline and start respecting other peoples rights. Everybody thinks that only they have ...

Posted by Mani

Sub: Temple stampede

It's a real pity that our people by and large don't mind wasting their time and their lives in temples, but often will not lift ...

Posted by Alamelu Venkatachalam



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