Survivors Blame ‘Mismanagement’, Shrine Board Refutes Charge

Reasi: In a stampede at Jammu and Kashmir’s Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, 12 have died and 14 have been injured. The survivors are blaming “mismanagement” for the tragedy. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, however, denied the charge, saying all necessary arrangements were made given the expected rush, while Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh blamed a minor altercation for the unfortunate incident.

“Nothing but mismanagement was the cause for this tragic accident. They were aware of the possible rush but allowed the people in unhindered,” a pilgrim from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh said while waiting outside a mortuary to identify a dead body. The man, who did not wish to be named, said this situation could have been avoided if the authorities concerned had managed the pilgrimage better.

On January 1 after the mishap, Union Minister Jitendra Singh visited devotees, who were injured in the stampede. Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, was accompanied by Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh during his visit to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital at Kakriyal. He inquired about the condition of the devotees undergoing treatment at the facility, the officials said. Of the 15 injured admitted to the hospital, the condition of two was stated to be critical, while four people were discharged.

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir expressed grief over the loss of lives in the stampede at the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu on Saturday and urged the administration to take adequate steps to ensure such an incident does not recur. Deeply saddened by the news from #matavaishnodevi. My condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the stampede & prayers for the quick & complete recovery of all those injured, National Conference (NC) vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

NC chief Farooq Abdullah said it was an extremely tragic incident at the holy place and expressed the hope that authorities will swiftly identify the causes and address them. The BJP’s JK unit chief Ravinder Raina and senior party leaders Devender Singh Rana and Surjeet Singh Slathia separately visited the hospital where the injured were admitted and the Katra base camp nearby.

The pilgrimage is now going on smoothly. The pilgrimage is continuing with following all COVID-19 guidelines, a senior government official said on Saturday. Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Raghav Langer said that the bodies of the four of the pilgrims have been identified and sent to their native places. The process to send the rest of the bodies was in progress. Langer, along with Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh, visited Katra the base camp for pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine to take stock of the situation.

J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta said that arrangements have been made to help the injured and an inquiry is underway. “All required help has been provided & arrangements are being made. An inquiry is underway in this unfortunate incident,” Mehta told ANI when asked if the devotees were carrying their Yatra passes.

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