The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 2 , 2012
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Ashram stampede under DIG scanner

- Top cop reviews crowd control measures

Dumka, Oct. 1: Santhal Pargana DIG Dadan Ji Sharma today visited the Satsang Ashram in Deoghar to assess crowd control arrangements in place in the wake of the September 24 stampede in which nine devotees were killed, putting a question mark on existing arrangements.

The stampede occurred when nearly a lakh devotees gathered outside the ashram tried to rush in as soon as the main gate was opened around 5am on the day the 125th birth anniversary of Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra was being observed.

Lakhs of devotees visit the Deoghar ashram for different functions throughout the year, and this was the first time that matters went out of control, allegedly due to the casual approach of the organisers towards handling such massive crowds.

Sharma also visited Baidyanath Dham to acquaint himself with the prevailing crowd control arrangements as it is another place that witnesses huge crowds during the month-long Shravani Mela every year. More than 50 lakh pilgrims visit the temple over the one-month period, posing a serious challenge to the administration.

“The deaths of nine devotees is a lesson for all stakeholders including the police. The administration has to initiate comprehensive crowd control steps at Baidyanath Dham because of the number of pilgrims involved,” Sharma told The Telegraph.

Notably, the Satsang Ashram management hitherto preferred not to involve the police in its affairs even though the devotee turnout was always huge during special occasions. The management instead depended on volunteers and private security guards to handle the rush of visitors.

The DIG also discussed the security and crowd control aspects of both Baidyanath Dham and Satsang Ashram with Deoghar SP Subodh Prasad and other police officers and directed them to submit a detailed report on the existing arrangements and sketch maps for improving the same.

“Prima facie it necessitates increasing the number of entry and exit points for easy access of pilgrims at both places apart from suitable measures for power back-up and emergency services,” he said, adding he would apprise the state headquarters about the requirements.