Gwalior Bench seeks answers on charges of extortion, spreading rumours, disposing of bodies, influencing witnesses

The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the police’s actions during the stampede that broke out at the Ratangarh Mata Temple in Datia, last month, in which at least 115 persons died.

Giving the order in response to to petitioner Gaurav Pandey’s Public Interest Litigation petition, the Division Bench of Judges S.K. Gangele and G.D. Saxena told the CBI the inquiry must not prejudice the ongoing judicial probe by retired HC judge Rakesh Saxena.

Alleging that the judicial probe was part of Madhya Pradesh’s attempt to cover up the real causes for the tragedy, counsel Awdhesh Bhadauria said his client had no faith in the State government, which was yet to table an inquiry report into the flash floods that occurred at the same spot in 2006 and killed 57 persons.

It had not taken steps to provide amenities to pilgrims or improve safety either.

Counsel said the petitioner sought answers on four counts: “First: did the police extort money from vehicles of pilgrims to allow them on the bridge? Second: did the police spread the rumour that the bridge has broken and do a lathicharge? Third: did the police throw the dead and injured into the Sindh? Four: has the police influenced any witnesses?”

The government has suspended top district officials after the incident had occurred.

The opposition Congress had claimed the death toll was between 300 and 400 persons and that the State fudged the figure.

  • CBI told to take care not to prejudice MP government’s judicial probe

  • State is trying to cover up real causes behind the tragedy: petitioner