MP stampede toll mounts to 115; govt orders probe, suspends collector

StampedeThe BJP said that it condemned the attitude of the Congress, adding that instead, the Centre must survey important places of pilgrimage and make a plan to make them more secure.

Under fierce attack from the Opposition, the Madhya Pradesh government on Monday ordered a judicial probe into the temple stampede in Datia district and recommended suspension of top district officials including the Collector and police chief over the tragedy that claimed 115 lives.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan , facing attack from the Congress party, which is seeking his resignation for the "man-made" tragedy, announced a judicial commission of inquiry to go into the incident and recommended suspension of Datia district Collector, Superintendent of Police, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Subdivisional Officer of Police and the entire staff of Sevdha police station.

The decision to recommend the suspension to the Election Commission was taken at review meeting chaired by Chouhan at Datia which found the officials guilty of major lapses that led to the disaster in the election-bound state.

The death of 115 persons and injury to 100 odd

devotees in the stampede near a Durga temple at Ratangarh

during Navratri festivities last morning has prompted demands for the Chief Minister's resignation.

The stampede was said to have been triggered by rumours that the bridge over river Sindh which the devotees were crossing was about to collapse. By another unconfirmed account, the stampede occurred when police used batons to control some people trying to jump the queue.

Lakhs of devotees had converged at Ratangarh, 60 km from the district headquarters and around 320 km from state capital Bhopal, to offer prayers at a Durga temple.

"The incident is shocking and most unfortunate," the Chief Minister, who was denied permission by the Election Commission to visit the mishap site, said after visiting the injured at a hospital in Datia.

He said an inquiry commission would be set up in a couple of days and would be asked to submit its report within two months. The recommendations of the panel would be implemented within 15 days of submission of the report and action will be taken against those found responsible for the tragedy, Chouhan said.

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