Oddly enough, all the exit gates were closed except for one which lead to the deaths of so many people.
Barely an year ago, Patna had witnesses serial bomb blasts during Bhartiya Janata Party’s Hunkar Rally at Gandhi Maidan. Five people were killed and 83 were injured in the serial blasts which rocked the nation. However, the laudable leadership of Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders averted a big tragedy as they remained calm and appealed the public to remain calm too.
Yesterday, during the Vijayadashami celebrations at the same venue, despite chief minister of Bihar Jiten Ram Manjhi’s presence, a stampede occurred killing 32 and injuring 26 others.
Amid tight security arrangements and heavy presence of police at Gandhi Maidan where Ravan Dahan was organized, some miscreants managed to engineer the stampede. These criminals were trying to make their way out of the venue when they spread the rumor of an electric wire hanging loose. According to eye witnesses, they shouted loudly: Bhago, bhago! (Run)
Oddly enough, all the exit gates were closed except for one which lead to the deaths of so many people. The people were trapped inside the venue because of the VIP cars lining outside four of the exit gates and late response of security on other two. Also, there was not a single cop present on the southern side of the Gandhi Maidan to regulate traffic and movement of people.
Reportedly, the half-km stretch of the road from Gandhi Maidan to Exhibition Road and about same distance upto Kargil Chowk was littered with shoes, slippers and other objects abandoned by the fleeing crowd panicked by the rumours.
The narrowness of space on Exhibition road due to construction of a flyover was a major reason for high number of causalities, those present testified. There was inadequate street light on South-East side of Gandhi Maidan as people ran for life and in the process fell on each other in the darkness, the eyewitnesses said.
Irony is the cases of stampedes are nothing new to Bihar. There have been number of instances where stampedes occurred due to sheer lack of organization and better policing. There was Chhath stampede, then Baba Dham stampede and several other stampedes which took lives of many.
Many of these lives lost were of women and children trampled by men saving their own lives.
There should have been instant arrangement of lights and more police must have been deployed. But the Gandhi Maidan went dark soon and the roads remained unlit. It happened so because the focus of the police shifted instantly from the venue and original tragedy scene to the PMCH where the injured were being treated and the angry families were standing.
The central government of the same BJP leadership which saw a tragedy unfold in front of its eyes is taking stock of the situation. PM Narendra Modi is learnt to have talked to CM Manjhi. The central government has also announcd Rs 3 alakh to the kin of the dead.
Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has sent a medical team and law minister Ravishankar Prasad is ready to take off for Patna. Opposition leader in the state, BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi has condoled the death and injuries sustained by people. Even Congress president Sonia Gandhi has expressed her shock and disbelief over the incident. But there is almost no word from the JD(U)-led state government.
It will be in the public interest if the Bihar government learns its lesson soon.