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Rajasthan temple stampede shifts focus on Mehrangarh tragedy

 The Khatu Shyam Ji temple in Sikar district of Rajasthan where three people died in a stampede.

The Khatu Shyam Ji temple in Sikar district of Rajasthan where three people died in a stampede. | Photo Credit: File photo

The stampede in Sikar district’s Khatu Shyam temple earlier this week, in which three women were killed, has shifted focus on a similar incident at Chamunda Devi temple in Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort in 2008, which had claimed 216 lives. A survey is proposed to be undertaken to find out the present condition of the kin of the Mehrangarh victims.

The talks are underway with the office-bearers of management committees of temples across Rajasthan as well as their priests and religious heads to evolve strategies for managing the crowds of devotees. The emphasis is on making corridors for pedestrians at the religious places and ensuring strict compliance with the guidelines in order to deal with the pilgrim rush.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who reviewed the security arrangements during fairs and festivals at the religious places in a high-level meeting here, said the decisions would be taken for making better arrangements for pilgrims and devotees after the completion of talks with the religious leaders.

Police have questioned the members of the Khatu Shyam temple committee in connection with the stampede on August 8. A first information report was registered under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) on the complaint of a Congress leader, Ramdev Singh Khokhar, alleging that the temple’s doors were closed following a dispute within the management committee despite thousands of pilgrims lining up outside.

Mr. Gehlot has instructed the Chief Secretary to appoint a committee, which will conduct a survey to get information about the present condition of the families of those killed in the Mehrangarh stampede. Though the next of kin of the deceased were given cash compensation and other benefits after the incident, the committee will explore the scope for extending further help to them.

“I have also asked the Jodhpur Collector to carry out the survey... We will see what could be done for them,” Mr. Gehlot told reporters in Jodhpur. The Justice Jasraj Chopra Commission, appointed to probe the causes of the tragedy and fix responsibility for the accident, had submitted its report in 2011 after six extensions, but it was not made public.

The State government cited the recommendations of a Cabinet sub-committee in an affidavit filed in the Rajasthan High Court and stated that the Commission’s findings could not be revealed, as they could have “serious repercussions” on the law and order front. The tabling of the Commission’s report would not be in public interest, said the affidavit.

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Printable version | Sep 9, 2022 9:31:11 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-temple-stampede-shifts-focus-on-mehrangarh-tragedy/article65762486.ece