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I fell and people began running over me: Loknath temple stampede victim

A wall of a private compound next to the temple caved in, triggering a stampede which killed at least 5 people

By Subhankar Chowdhury in Calcutta
  • Published 24.08.19, 3:38 AM
  • Updated 24.08.19, 3:38 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
A crowd on the road leading to the temple on Friday. The wall of the adjacent compound that collapsed (circled) leading to the stampede. Picture by Partha Sarathi Nandi

Namita Sardar was resting under a banyan tree barely a few yards from the serpentine queue that led to Kachua Loknath temple around 2.45am on Friday.

She and her husband Sujoy Sardar were about to join the queue to complete the ritual — pouring water on Baba Loknath’s idol.

“But all of a sudden, the queue broke and a wave of people started coming at us. I fell and people began running over me. My left hand was badly injured and I lost consciousness in the stampede,” Namita told Metro outside the X-ray room at the Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital on Friday afternoon.

She is one among three admitted there. The others are Barsha Biswas and Tumpa Biswas.

Around 3am in North 24-Parganas’ Kachua, a wall of a private compound next to the temple caved in, triggering a stampede which killed at least five people.

Several, like Namita, were injured.

Namita’s sari was caked in mud as she collapsed on the ground that was muddy from heavy rain in Swarupnagar, North 24-Parganas, where the ashram is located. Kachua, in Swarupnagar, is around 14km from the heart of the city.

She was wheeled into the X-ray room on the ground floor from the first floor of the hospital by relatives of other patients as husband Sujoy stepped out to get her a new sari.

“I am feeling a searing pain in my left hand that is swollen. People just landed on the hand. I cannot move it. My legs have become numb,” said Namita, who is from Malancha in North 24-Parganas.

Barun Biswas, father of 11-year-old Barsha, said the girl was shifted to the ICU of the hospital around 11pm as her condition did not improve.

Barsha, from Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, was part of a family tour of the temple. Tumpa Biswas, her aunt, also admitted to the hospital, lay a few beds away.

“Barsha received injuries on her head. The crowd was running here and there and she collapsed on the road. As she fell, people stepped on her head,” said Barun.

In the evening, Barsha gained consciousness, but could not recognise anyone.

Her father called out her name but the child cast a blank look.

Tumpa, 38, was relatively better, as she was able to speak, said brother Sudipta Biswas.

The superintendent of the hospital, Sandip Ghosh, said the condition of the three patients, including Barsha, was critical and necessary examinations like CT scan were being done to find out the extent of injuries.

“All of them have suffered injuries on the head,” said Ghosh.

Ghosh said two persons — Tarun Mandal and Aparna Sarkar — were brought dead to the Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital. “Their bodies have been sent to NRS hospital for post-mortem,” said Ghosh.

Four people were treated and discharged from the hospital, he said.

Two people died at SSKM Hospital. One of them was Sanaka Das, 66, said an official of the hospital. The other, a man, could not be identified, he added.

Purnima Ghoru, 47, died at RG Kar hospital.

Compensation

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee went to the Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital around 10.30am to meet the injured. She announced compensation packages at the hospital. “A compensation of Rs 5lakh will be given to those who have died. Those who are seriously injured will be given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. Those who have received minor injuries will receive a compensation of Rs 50,000,” said Mamata.

The chief minister said the narrow road leading to the temple probably caused the tragedy. “Some fell in the pond. The road is so narrow. We have to plan in the future. That is why the incident happened. People died in the rush. They died while taking shelter. The heavy rain triggered panic among the people,” she said.

From the Calcutta National Medical Hospital, Mamata went to SSKM Hospital. There, she spoke to doctors to enquire about the status of the injured admitted to the hospital.