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DC denies temple action

Ranchi, July 16: The Deoghar district administration today dismissed the alleged lathicharge incidents during the ongoing Shravan Mela at Baidyanath Dham as nothing but chaos-control measures, the assertion coming a day after chief minister Hemant Soren ordered a probe.

The Baidyanath temple or Babadham apparently witnessed police lathicharge on devotees on two occasions since Shravan festivities started on Sunday. While the first incident was reported on Monday — the first Somvari that is considered to be auspicious — the second this morning.

But Deoghar deputy commissioner Ameet Kumar said: “We have held an inquiry into the allegations of lathicharge on devotees. Nothing like that happened. Only, a few chaotic situations were controlled. As for reports of injuries, some pilgrims fell on each other in the rush and hurt themselves.”

Yesterday, the chief minister took cognisance of the alleged July 14 incident and directed Santhal Pargana commissioner to conduct a probe and file a report within 24 hours.

He also directed officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty to find out whether the mismanagement had taken place because of the new time slot system under which the devotees are given a specific time to pay their obeisance to lord Shiva. If required, the system would be revoked after a review, Hemant has said.

But Kumar maintained that the time slot system was working fine.

“There are a total of 15 counters that issue access cards to pilgrims to enter the temple and offer water through the arghya system. At one go, the number of pilgrims standing in the queue is around 50 and things are quite manageable,” he said.

But local sources said that police and administration were unable to cope with the heavy rush and manage time slot system, which led to chaos.

Yesterday, a section of priests owing allegiance to Panda Dharmarakshi Sabha had demanded removal of the time slot system.

Last evening, the temple committee decided that the number of counters distributing access cards might be increased during rush hours.

Till 4pm today, Babadham had witnessed a crowd count of around 2 lakh.