Stampedes, be at temples (150 in Himachal Pradesh in 2005; 350 killed in Maharashtra in 2006; 63 in Uttar Pradesh in 2010; 106 in Sabarimala in 2011; 89 in Madhya pradesh in 2013), Pushkar ghats (22 killed during Godavari Pushkaram in Andhra Pradesh), Ravan dahan or any major congregations, etc., have become an order of the day and killing several people and injuring many more. Respective governments are washing their hands off by paying some compensation to the deceased or injured. It looks like that preventive steps being, if at all, taken are not enough to control the uncontrolled population at these places and the most vulnerable victims are women and children, who find no way to escape. Recent example is from West Bengal, in which six people died and several others injured. The reason quoted was “the rush to catch the last launch to cross the river” during Gangasagar fair, where at least 16 lakh pilgrims took the holy dip. Enough proactive measures should have avoided stampede and saved the lives. Unfortunately, no lessons were learnt by the local administration from the past incidents that occurred at the same spot six years ago leading to death of seven people, when around four lakh people took a holy dip on that Makara Sankranti day. Local administrators need to take appropriate measures to avoid stampedes and keeping rescue teams as stand may minimise the death toll. Announcing ex gratia may not bring back the lives lost!
Dr. S.V.N. Vijayendra, Mysuru