Five women devotees were killed and several others injured in a stampede inside the premises of religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana, triggered by rumours about the presence of a snake, officials said on Friday.
The incident took place on Thursday night during a function to mark the foundation day of the sect, Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Yudhvir Singh told PTI.
He said that preliminary reports indicated that at the function, someone spread a rumour about the presence of a snake that led to devotees running helter-skelter leading to the stampede.
Five women devotees lost their lives and their identities were yet to be established, he said. The official did not specify the number of injured and said investigations were in progress.
However, some sources in the Dera said that the stampede took place when a small platform erected inside the premises to give away gifts to the devotees collapsed.
The injured have been hospitalised and the bodies have been sent for post-mortem.
A spokesperson at the Dera headquarters, a religious sect headed by Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, said that the stampede took place when some devotees in the huge rush wanted to move out of the premises.