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14 priests injured in 'gulal-triggered' fire in Mahakal temple

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: March 25, 2024 21:34 IST
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At least 14 priests including 'sevaks' were injured in a fire that broke out in the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahakal temple in Ujjain early Monday during the famous 'bhasma aarti' ritual, an official said.

IMAGE: People rush towards safety after fire breaks out in the Mahakal temple in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh . Photograph: ANI Photo

The blaze started at 5:50 am as 'gulal' or coloured powder fell on the puja thali that contained burning camphor, Ujjain Collector Neeraj Kumar Singh said.

Madhya Pradesh minister Kailash Vijayvargiya said the fire may have been caused by chemicals in 'gulal'.

"Fourteen priests including sevaks (servitors) suffered burn injuries. The fire started as 'gulal' (coloured powder used during rituals) fell on the puja thali that contained burning 'kapoor' (camphor). It later spread on the floor and turned into a blaze," the collector said.

He said some of the injured are being treated in the district hospital here, while eight others have sought treatment in Indore.


Singh further said a magisterial probe has been ordered which will be conducted by Zila Panchayat CEO Mrinal Meena and Additional Collector Anukool Jain, and a report will be submitted in three days.

The incident has been captured on CCTV cameras installed in the temple, an official said.

In a post on social media platform X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the incident "very painful".

"The incident that happened in Mahakal temple of Ujjain is very painful. I wish for the speedy recovery of all the devotees injured in this incident. The local administration is engaged in every possible help to the victims under the supervision of the state government," Modi said.

The prime minister also spoke to MP Chief Minister Mohan Yadav over the phone and sought information about the incident, an official said.

Several people, including some VVIPs, were present in the Nandi Hall in front of the sanctum sanctorum when the fire incident occurred, but fortunately, devotees were not injured, according to officials.

In view of the incident, the chief minister, 59, cancelled celebrations for Holi as well as his birthday at his official residence and rushed to Ujjain via Indore to meet the victims.

Besides meeting victims at Indore and Ujjain, Yadav also visited the Mahakal Temple and reviewed the situation with priests and officials. He performed puja in front of the sanctum sanctorum.

Talking to reporters in Bhopal, Yadav said clothes were put on the silver walls of the garbha griha to protect them from Holi colours.

"It is not known whether the fire started after the 'aarti thali' fell when 'gulal' was thrown on it or whether the 'gulal' reacted to some chemical," he said.

In Ujjain, he announced financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh for each injured person and free medical treatment.

The injured persons will be provided with the best available treatment for free. The administration will make all efforts to ensure such incidents do not recur, the CM added.

"Our priority is to provide the best treatment to the injured. There is no casualty by the grace of Mahakal," he said.

According to Yadav, doctors are facing a problem in locating burn injuries on the skin of the injured due to Holi colour.

"The fire started after gulal was thrown as part of a ritual on the occasion of Holi. It caused burn injuries to priests, who were rushed to the district hospital," priest Ashish told reporters.

Dr Vinod Bhandari, president of Indore-based Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences (SAIMS), told PTI that eight of the injured have been admitted at this facility.

"The eight persons have suffered 35 to 40 per cent burn injuries, and the condition of one of them is serious," he said.

State Urban Development and Housing Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya reached SAIMS and enquired about the condition of the injured persons.

"It seems all the injured at SAIMS are out of danger, But they will be under observation for the next 24 hours," Vijayvargiya told reporters after visiting the health facility.

"Every year, Holi is celebrated in Mahakaleshwar Temple by throwing gulal. Maybe, some chemical in the gulal caused the fire. However, we are not going to stop the tradition of playing Holi with Lord Bholenath in Mahakaleshwar Temple," he said.

In a post on X, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he had spoken to the MP CM over the incident and the local administration was ensuring all relief to the injured.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.