At Least 12 Die in Stampede at a Hindu Shrine in Kashmir


SRINAGAR, Kashmir — At least 12 individuals have been killed and greater than a dozen have been injured in a stampede early Saturday close to the town of Jammu in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, as 1000’s of devotees have been paying obeisance at a well-known Hindu shrine to mark the start of the brand new yr.

Hundreds of individuals have been packed inside a hall of the shrine, Mata Vaishno Devi, in the hilly city of Katra, when at about 2:30 a.m. a conflict broke out outdoors, resulting in the stampede, police officers mentioned.

Dilbag Singh, the highest police officer of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which accommodates Katra, mentioned that officers had been fast to reply to emergency calls however that the “damage was already done.”

One of the devotees at the shrine, Bunty Singh, mentioned he, like 1000’s of others, had arrived to supply prayers simply after midnight, an auspicious time for a lot of Hindus to begin the primary day of a yr. But Mr. Singh, 45, a businessman from neighboring Punjab State, mentioned that the roads resulting in the shrine have been packed and that there was hardly any house to stroll.

“A sudden commotion broke out,” he mentioned. “Before the stampede, there was a noise for some time, as if people were fighting with each other.”

Deadly stampedes throughout spiritual pilgrimages and festivals are widespread in India, the place public security measures are sometimes flouted by temple authorities. The stampedes are sometimes introduced on by overcrowding in small areas with few exit-control measures in place. In latest years, officers throughout the nation have been making an attempt to enhance public security at temples and shrines, that are visited by tons of of 1000’s of individuals every day. According to native officers, the temple authorities in Katra mentioned they’d taken the required security measures.

In October 2013, at least 115 people died when 1000’s of religious pilgrims panicked that a slim bridge they have been crossing is perhaps collapsing. About half a million worshipers had flocked that month to a temple in the northern Madhya Pradesh State for a competition. In April 2016, a sequence of explosions attributable to a fireworks show throughout a spiritual competition at a temple in the southern Kerala State left 106 lifeless and tons of injured.

Manoj Sinha, India’s high appointed official in the area, mentioned he had directed officers to research the stampede and to look into how such episodes might be averted in the long run.

Videos from Mata Vaishno Devi — which is tucked in a mountain about 5,200 toes above sea stage and is visited annually by thousands and thousands of Hindu pilgrims — confirmed 1000’s of individuals jostling for house close to the doorway to the shrine minutes earlier than the stampede. Later movies present ambulances dashing towards the temple and 1000’s of individuals making an attempt to depart.

Amit Chowdhary, a businessman from Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, mentioned he was amongst about two dozen individuals who fell as they noticed a big crowd making an attempt to depart by means of one of many shrine’s gates.

“When I fell, I thought the first day of this year was going to be the last day of my life,” Mr. Chowdhary mentioned. “People were moving over the dead bodies. Somehow I managed to pull myself up and ran for my life.”



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