| Residents on Wednesday collect soop and daura that were scattered during Monday’s stampede at Adalat Ghat. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
An open court would be conducted in the city on Thursday and Friday to ascertain the cause of the Monday’s stampede , while the cellphone used to request the Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking’s control room to switch off the electricity supply at Adalat Ghat has been traced.
A senior official said the caller was a resident of Bajaja lane adjacent to Bakerganj. The SIM card belongs to Ashok Ghosh, the owner of Ghosh Electricals at Bakerganj.
“It was on the request of the caller, the personnel manning the control room switched off the power supply, which led to confusion and chaos at the ghat,” he added.
When The Telegraph contacted Ghosh on his cellphone, he admitted to have made the call to the control room requesting to disconnect the power supply in the locality. “Had I not made the call, several people would have come in contact with the live electric wire on the pontoon bridge at Adalat Ghat,” he said, adding that his intention was not bad.
Amid claims and counter-claims flying thick and fast, principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani said on Wednesday that an open court would be held in Patna to record the statement of the witnesses and residents of the Adalat Ghat Lane to unravel the truth behind the stampede. Instructions have been issued to the Patna district magistrate in this regard, he added.
District magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh confirmed that an open court would function for two days at the collectorate on the instruction of the home secretary but refused to disclose the timing.
On Wednesday, the statement of the members of different puja committees, police personnel deployed at Adalat Ghat and some residents were recorded before the home secretary, who has been assigned the task to probe into the incident by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
“We have decided to hold an open court for two days to know the sequences, which led to the stampede on Monday evening when people were returning after offering arghya (obeisance) to the setting Sun,” Subhani said, adding that the probe would cover all possible angles.
He said everyone would be given ample opportunity to plead their cases before fixing the accountability for the tragedy. He also watched the video footage depicting the scene after the stampede, which gave the Opposition ample opportunity to corner the administration.
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD MP Jagdanand Singh on Wednesday visited Adalat Ghat. They took stock of the situation and blamed the chief minister for the tragedy.
After returning from the spot, Paswan said: “Nitish Kumar made proper arrangements for his Adhikar Rally on November 4 and ensured the safety of his partymen. But he failed to ensure the safety of the Chhath devotees. A murder case should be lodged against the officials under whom the makeshift bamboo bridge was constructed.”
He also described the probe by the home secretary an eyewash and demanded a judicial probe into the incident. He also met some of the victims’ family in East Lohanipur and Postal Park area of city.
RJD MP Singh also blamed Nitish for the tragedy. “The chief minister of this state is responsible for the tragedy, which claimed lives of 17 innocent people.”
He also alleged that on the day of the tragedy, several police personnel were engaged in the security of the chief minister. “That particular day, he went to inspect the ghats. Several police personnel were diverted to his security and nobody was there to guard the ghats and devotees,” said Singh.