Nine persons were on killed and at least 30 injured when a stampede broke out after devotees tried to rush through the gate of an ashram on Monday in Deogarh in Jharkhand.
"Nine persons died in the stampede at the Ankul Chandra Ashram during the celebration of its 125th Anniversary," Superintendent of Police Subodh Prasad told reporters in Deogarh.
Deputy Commissioner Rahul Purwar, however, termed it as an accident, saying an elderly woman fell down following which other women fell on her.
"An elderly woman slipped and fell, and others also fell, apparently being pushed from behind. They must have suffered internal injuries and died at the hospital," Purwar said.
Many of the injured were sent after being administered first aid, he said.
Noting that the ashram celebrates its anniversary every year, Purwar said this year they had informed the administration that about 1.5 lakh people would come to mark the 125th anniversary of the ashram.
"The campus is big. There might be overcrowding in the prayer area," Purwar said.
A family member of the deceased said, "There was a huge gathering at the gate of the Ashram around 5.30 am, and some people tried to rush in, triggering the stampede."
Condoling the death, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda announced Rs 2 lakh each for the family of the deceased and free treatment to all the injured.
Seven of the deceased were identified as Pratima Kumari (Muzzafarpur, Bihar) Badami Devi (Supol, Bihar), Jamuni Devi (Bokaro, Jharkhand), Pinki (Samastipur, Bihar), Parwati Bohatai (Tangi, Odisha), Uma Mazumdar (North 24 Parganas, WB) and Bishnu Pirya Malik (Hoogly, WB), police said.
A probe has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of the incident.