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PDP Leaders Say Stampede At Vaishno Devi Shrine Failure Of J-K Administration

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh told PTI that preliminary information from the scene suggests there was a minor altercation between some young boys, and within seconds, there was a stampede.

Bodies of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine stampede victims being taken to a Community Health Centre at Katra, in Reasi district, Saturday morning, January 1, 2022. PTI Photo

Terming the stampede at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine a "man-made tragedy", some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders on Saturday blamed the Jammu and Kashmir administration for it and demanded a high-level probe into the incident in which at least 12 people were killed.

They also asked how a large number of devotees were allowed to gather at the temple despite Covid protocols being in place. Over a dozen people were also injured in the stampede at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine located atop Trikuta Hills, about 50 km from here. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh told PTI that preliminary information from the scene suggests there was a minor altercation between some young boys, and within seconds, there was a stampede.

A joint statement issued by Jammu-based PDP leaders said, "The tragedy is the result of the failure on the part of the administration. It is not an accident but a man-made tragedy because those at the helm of the affairs are responsible for the first-ever stampede at the holy cave shrine."

The leaders, including PDP vice president Choudhary Hamid and general secretary Amrik Singh Reen, demanded a high-level probe into the stampede to fix responsibility of officers who were "responsible for the deaths of 12 pilgrims". The statement alleged that over the last few years, common pilgrims have been facing hardship due to VIP culture at the shrine. "Rooms at the Bhawan and en route are usually occupied by relatives, family friends, neighbours and knowns of bureaucrats," it claimed.

Instead of providing facilities to pilgrims, the higher-ups of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board are usually busy attending to the family members of officers, it alleged. The PDP leaders asked how a large number of devotees were allowed to visit the shrine. "Authorities claimed to have convened several meetings regarding the Covid crisis in J&K but it has to be seen as to how the administration fixes responsibility for crowding at the place, leading to a stampede," they said. Later, the PDP said, a party delegation led by Hamid visited Katra and enquired about the condition of those injured in the stampede. 

-With PTI Inputs 

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