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A rare passage to escape death alley

- PMCH engineer opens house gate to devotees to escape stampede

When devotees at Adalat Ghat panicked on Monday evening, one family threw open the corridor to “life”.

Om Prakash and his family saved thousands of lives by opening the main gate of their house in Adalat Ghat Lane. This helped the devotees reach another street that leads to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH).

Prakash, an electrical engineer with the PMCH, not only provided a safe route to the devotees but also helped them skirt the scar of an arghya-gone-wrong near Adalat Ghat on Monday.

When the devotees started running to save their lives, all routes leading to Ashok Rajpath were clogged with people.

According to eyewitnesses, there was no other way for the devotees to escape death except taking the route to Prakash’s house along the lane where the stampede occurred.

“The lane where the stampede occurred connects Adalat Ghat with Ashok Rajpath. The lane was completely choked because people were approaching the ghat. Things turned worse when people started running towards the pontoon bridge after the makeshift bamboo bridge at Mahendru Ghat collapsed. People were coming from both sides, resulting in overcrowding on the entire stretch. There was absolute fear and helplessness among people. They started falling on each other and there was no way to escape,” Prakash said, narrating the ordeal of the devotees.

Realising the gravity of the situation, Prakash opened the main gate of his house. “It was the only way through which the injured could be taken to PMCH within minutes. There is a narrow corridor in my house, which connects the lane with the emergency ward of the PMCH. Over 5,000 people used the corridor in my house. We provided them with stretchers and water. My family helped every one pass through my house to the main road,” Prakash added.

Prakash and his family not only rose to the situation by helping the needy but also provided necessary information about the incident to victims’ family and police.

Prakash’s wife Sushila Devi (47) was part of the crusade to save lives of the innocent devotees.

“I found a five-year-old boy weeping at one corner of my house. My nephew found a piece of paper in the child’s pocket in which his name and his father’s mobile number were written. We found that the boy’s name was Yashu Raj and his father’s name was Rajesh Kumar. We immediately informed his father and an hour later, he came running and took his child home. We also informed Pirbahore police station about the casualties and victims. We did whatever we could at that moment,” Sushila said.

Recalling Monday’s stampede as one of the goriest incidents related to a festival like Chhath, Om Prakash’s younger brother Shiv Prakash said: “Our family will never forget the incident. But we are proud that we did a pious job by helping those in crisis. Had we not opened the gate, the toll would have been between 150 and 200.”