An unidentified devotee, in his sixties, died and at least 15 others fainted and were injured in a stampede at a popular temple of Lord Shiva in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district on Monday.
Thousands had gathered at Indramaneshwar Temple in Ashokdham to offer prayers on the last Monday of the holy Shravan month when the accident happened. However, the local district administration claimed there was no stampede and that the elderly man had died of ‘cardiac arrest’.
Locals and eyewitnesses countered the administration’s claim. They said it was a major stampede caused by lack of crowd management and claimed that the man suffocated during the rush of people.
Police said those who fainted were taken to the nearby medical camp but there was chaos due to the lack of a proper medical team.
“The crowd had started pouring at the temple premises from Sunday night. The queue stretched for over six kilometres. It took an average eight hours of wait for a pilgrim to get inside the temple,” said a police official.
Police had erected barricades but the swelling crowds resulted in piling up of people, some of whom even crossed over the lines.
Deputy inspector general of police (Munger range) Manu Maharaaj, who reached the spot after the incident, said that the old devotee has not been identified so far.
“No incident of stampede had been reported from the spot,” he said.
Maharaaj added that security personnel were keeping a strict vigil to regulate the heavy rush of devotees in the temple and the situation was under control.
ADG (headquarters) Jitendra Kumar said there were no injury marks on the deceased’s body, which was taken to the Sadar Hospital for a postmortem examination.
“One company of Rapid Action Force and Sashastra Seema Bal have been stationed at Patna and Bhagalpur respectively to assist the local police in maintaining law and order in case any disturbance is reported,” Kumar said.
Shiva temples across Bihar have been witnessing a surge of a crowd since morning.