The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Faith trudges back

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 5: Lakhs of devotees today queued up at the Jagannath temple in Puri to have a glimpse of the lord, brushing aside tremors of the stampede, which left four people dead and 23 injured yesterday.

More than 5 lakh devotees also took a holy dip in the sea at dawn on the occasion of Kartik Purnima (the last day of Kartik). Chastened by yesterday’s tragedy, the temple administration today deployed 20 platoons of police inside and outside as people silently queued up with admirable discipline.

But the kin of the dead and injured continued to blame the local administration for yesterday’s tragedy, alleging it had not geared up for the teeming multitude who show up every year on this auspicious day.

“Now they are consoling us. They should have taken adequate precautions when they knew that thousands of people would be here for the festival,” said Sangeeta Choudhury, (32), daughter-in-law of Ganjam’s Ananda Mohapatra, who died in the stampede. According to witnesses, the officials and police deployed at the temple did little to ease the crowd when the stampede began.

Authorities today said the condition of Janaki Dash, who was critically injured and severely traumatised, had stabilised. Dash was shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack yesterday. Of the 22 others injured, 14 have been discharged.

Many pilgrims also raised questions over the role of the police, who were allegedly mute spectators during the trample.

Chief administrator of the temple Suresh Mohapatra said the five-member committee set up by him to probe the tragedy would take 10 days to ascertain the guilty. More changes in the temple, he added, would be made to ease the movement of crowd after the management committee meets sometime this month.

Left parties and Orissa Gana Parishad today rejected the probe by a sitting high court judge. Orissa Gana Parishad president Bijoy Mohapatra said there is no need for such a probe as the mishap occurred in public glare.

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