The government’s clean chit to the district administration on the Adalat Ghat tragedy has added insult to their injuries, the victims’ relatives claimed on Thursday.
During a special debate in the Assembly on Wednesday, water resources minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary and JD(U) legislator Poonam Devi claimed that the administration was in no way responsible for the November 19 stampede at the ghat that claimed 17 lives.
“It is a mockery of the people who lost lives,” said Roshan Sao, a resident of Bengali Toli who lost his wife Sanju Devi, son Karan (11) and one-year-old daughter Nandini in the incident.
Holding his two other children, seven-year-old Arjun and five-year-old Sonali, Sao accused the district authorities of not ensuring the safety of devotees going to the ghat to perform Pehli Arghya rituals. “They are the culprits, they should be punished immediately,” he said. “The doctors at Patna Medical College and Hospital should also be brought to book for not properly treating the victims who were rushed to the health hub.”
Relatives of victims had earlier alleged that the largest government hospital in the state was in disarray when the injured were taken to it. On Thursday, they reiterated their accusation amid tears.
East Lohanipur resident Preety Kumari, the aunt of four-and-a-half-year-old Kittu who was crushed to death in the stampede, could not hold back her tears.
Preety said: “I was at the ghat when the incident occurred. Had the police and the administrative officials been there, the stampede could have been prevented. The government cannot understand our pain.”
Struggling to recover from the grief of losing wife Usha, Achinta Hore, a resident of Langar Toli, also blamed the PMCH administration for the high toll.
“I saw on TV that the health minister (Ashwini Kumar Choubey) was in Bhagalpur and telling news channels that everything was okay at the PMCH. What kind of people are they? My wife would have survived if there had been doctors at the hospital,” he said.
East Lohanipur resident Phula Devi, who lost her 14-year-old daughter Suman Kumari in the Adalat Ghat tragedy, came to district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Singh’s janata durbar on Thursday to complain that the Rs 2 lakh compensation cheque she had been given by the chief minister had been dishonoured.
“Sir, the officials at the bank told me that the signature on the cheque did not match with the one in their records,” Devi said.
The State Bank of India cheque had the signature of district treasury head clerk Satyandra Kumar Singh and initials of the DM. He assured her that the cheque would be cleared instantly. The money was transferred to Phula’s husband’s account by 4pm.