At least three persons were killed and over 20 injured in a stampede near a temple in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district on Friday (August 23), Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
The mishap took place around 2.15 am near Kachua Loknath temple at Kachua. Lakhs of people gather at the temple every year on this day to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Lokenath Brahmachari, an 18th century Bengali saint, who has followers in West Bengal and Bangladesh.
Banerjee, who rushed to National Medical College and Hospital here, where the injured were admitted, told reporters, “There was a large crowd at Kachua Loknath temple this year. It started raining heavily in the wee hours and people tried to take shelter at makeshift bamboo stalls on the approach road to the temple. The bamboo structures collapsed after heavy rain.”
“The place was narrow and in the rush, a few people fell into the pond beside the temple and this created a confusion leading to a stampede-like situation there,” she said. She said senior ministers have been sent to Barasat Hospital, RG Kar Medical College and a hospital at Basirhat.
“I am personally monitoring the situation”, Banerjee said. The chief minister also announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh to next of kin of those killed in the mishap, ₹1 lakh
to family members of the critically injured and ₹50,000 for those with minor injuries.
The mishap at Kachua is unfortunate and tragic. Occurred after heavy rain. I visited CNMC and SSKM hospitals to meet families of the deceased and injured. Every death is a tragedy. But what we can do is to stand by the families in their moment of grief (1/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 23, 2019
“The mishap at Kachua is unfortunate and tragic. Occurred after heavy rain. I visited CNMC and SSKM hospitals to meet families of the deceased and injured. Every death is a tragedy. But what we can do is to stand by the families in their moment of grief,” Banerjee tweeted.
A senior police officer said that some pilgrims visiting the temple in Basirhat police district, had slipped due to slush caused by heavy rain and wind. The police rescued them and took them to a health camp at Kachua and then to a primary health centre, he said. “The situation was immediately brought under control,” he said.
“Ten critically injured persons have been brought to Kolkata for better treatment. Three persons have succumbed to injuries and another three are in a very critical condition. Five injured persons are in a hospital within Basirhat police station limits,” he said.
The three dead have been identified as Aparna Sarkar, Tarun Mondal and Poornima Gorai, another senior officer of West Bengal Police said.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh criticised the state government for not setting up proper infrastructure to deal with the rush of pilgrims.
“There is no point in running from one hospital to another now… why should the CM be going to hospitals… the state government should have had proper arrangements in place,
keeping in mind the huge turnout on this occasion,” Ghosh said.