There was an eerie silence in north-east Delhi’s Khajuri Khas area on Friday where a stampede at a government school took the lives of five girls and injured 34 other students.
The locals are yet to recover from the tragedy which struck on Thursday morning when the students were about to appear for their terminal examinations.
“The entire locality is grieving. We lost five girls and many are still in hospital. We have heard that the condition of two is very serious. We are praying for them,” said Mohd Riyasuddin, a local resident.
The stampede occurred at around 9 am on Thursday when students were trying to make their way up and down a narrow staircase when they were asked to shift classrooms during examinations on a rainy day.
There were conflicting reports about the events which led to the tragedy, ranging from rumours about current passing through flooded water and boys misbehaving with girls.
The school remained closed on Friday.
“We are hearing different versions. We are yet to ascertain what led to the incident. A case of death due to negligence has been registered and investigations are on,” a senior police official said.
As tempers ran high in the locality, a large number of police personnel were deployed in the area to keep a tight vigil in the locality during the night.
Angry locals had resorted to violence in the area on Thursday after the incident took place. They had also damaged some vehicles, including a bus.
“Police is in abundance in the area as there is some tension in the area. There are a number of police personnel deployed near the school also,” the official said.
The family and relatives of those injured have gathered at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital where their wards are undergoing treatment.
According to hospital authorities, the condition of two girls -- Ruchi and Usha -- were serious and they were on artificial respiration.
“Six were admitted in a serious condition out of which four are out of danger,” said O P Kalra, the Medical Superintendent of GTB Hospital.
Locals alleged that the facilities in the school were inadequate and the teachers didn’t take appropriate action when the incident took place.
“Someone spread that rumours about short circuit triggered the stampede. There was no power in the area. There should be investigation into it. We suspect some school officials spread it,” Mohd Sadique, a local resident, said.
Another local Veer Singh also echoed similar comments, saying a proper investigation should be done to ascertain the cause of the tragedy.