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Himachal: Pilgrimage continues at Naina Devi shrine

August 04, 2008 11:52 IST

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146 dead in temple stampede in Himachal Pradesh

The stampede at the Naina Devi temple, killing 146 pilgrims, failed to deter devotees on Monday from undertaking their pilgrimage at the hill-top shrine even as the Himachal Pradesh [Images] government took steps to prevent such a tragedy.

The temple officials said the devotees went ahead with the one km-long trek to the temple for their Shravan Navratra pilgrimage, but their numbers were somewhat reduced apparently because of the stampede and also the possibility of heavy rain.

"The number of devotees is somewhat down, but the pilgrimage is on and the devouts are going to pay their obeisance at the temple. The number may be reduced because of the stampede and also due to the overcast sky and possibility of heavy rain," they said.

In an exercise aimed at preventing another tragedy, Himachal authorities deployed personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Patrol and police besides home guards and temple volunteers to regulate the movement of the worshippers along the trek to the shrine, which is located about 160 km from Shimla and is about 22 km from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab.

"The pilgrims have been asked to stick to their queue in an orderly manner and not get influenced by rumours. Police personnel, homeguards and volunteers are ensuring that the devotees keep to their row," the officials said.

Chief Minister P K Dhumal, who on Sunday night visited the spot where the stampede took place after rumours of a landslide, has directed the local authorities and the police to take strict measures to prevent another accident.

Of the 146 killed, including 30 children and 38 women, the bodies of 129 have been identified, Deputy Commissioner in Ropar in Punjab B Purshartha told PTI. 17 bodies are still unclaimed, he said.

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