Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri/Bhubaneswar, Jul 20:
While the loss of two precious lives in the stampede on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) during the Rath Yatra in Odisha’s holy town of Puri on Saturday has evoked strong reactions from the public across the state and the Opposition parties have demanded judicial inquiry, the state government is yet to open its mouth over the tragic incident.
Instead, it has hatched an elaborate plan to cover up its tracks.
According to reliable sources, DGP Sanjeev Marik has himself provided the framework for the plan. In his preliminary report on the incident, he has stated that the two deaths that occurred on the Rath Yatra day in Puri were not caused due to stampede. What has surprised one and all is the basis of the DGP’s conclusion that it was not a stampede at a time when Puri police has decided to examine the CCTV footage of the relevant time period to find what caused the deaths.
Two persons had lost their lives during a stampede on the Grand Road on Saturday and at least ten persons were injured. Six of them were shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack. Their condition is stated to be stable, according to hospital sources.
Already in the dock for the Brahma Parivartan fiasco, the deaths due to the stampede during the Rath Yatra has brought in fresh trouble for the state government. Since Saturday, the day of the incident, the highest echelons of the state government have embarked on an exercise to cover it up.
Sources revealed that the DGP in his preliminary report to the state government has said that the death of 75-year old lady Sushila Samantray near Hotel Nayak Plaza was not caused due to stampede.
Sushila had lost her balance while she was attempting to get hold of the ropes of ‘Taladhwaj’ chariot outside the outer cordon of the chariot and had fallen down. She was immediately shifted to the hospital where doctors declared her dead, Marik has said in his report, the sources further revealed.
The DGP is also learnt to have said in his report that the death of the second woman near the Town police station was also not due to stampede. The 50-year old woman was sitting on the steps of the Gaudiya Mutt and was finding it difficult to breathe. Some people were witness to it. She was shifted to the hospital and her death occurred there, Marik’s report has apparently said.
Top officials in the police department are at a loss for words to explain who these eye witnesses are, where the police located them and what was the basis on which the DGP arrived at this conclusion.
However, the DGP’s report has brought relief to the state government. Strict instructions have been issued to BJD leaders to keep their mouths shut as far as possible on this account. The state government too hasn’t ordered a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the deaths. The government is adopting a wait and watch policy to observe public reaction on this account.
On the other hand, Puri police is trying to ascertain the causes behind the death of the two devotees, sources said. They have decided to examine footage of that time from CCTV cameras installed on the Grand Road. The police are also trying to pinpoint the exact locations of the mishap from the footage.
“Police is trying to ascertain the reasons behind the deaths of the two women devotees. We are also trying to find out the circumstances leading to their deaths. Efforts are on to trace out the eyewitnesses who were present during the mishap and record their statements,” said a senior police official who preferred anonymity.