Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jul 18:
At least two persons were killed and ten others injured in a stampede during the pulling of chariots of the Lords today in Odisha’s holy town of Puri.
As per sources, stampede occurred at Marichikote Square and near Hindi Vidyapeeth on Grand Road during the pulling of Lord Balabhadra’s Taladhwaja Rath where two women were killed and over 10 persons were injured.
Initially, the injured were admitted to district headquarters hospital here. Later, two seriously injured –Sagarika Mandal, Sanjay Praharaj–were shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack.
The identity of the deceased is yet to be ascertained.
Odisha DGP Sanjiv Marik, however, denied reports of stampede. “I have information about the death of a 64-year old lady. She has no injury marks on her body, which suggests that she probably died due to exhaustion. Had there been a stampede, many more would have died,” Marik told Kanak TV.
The DGP admitted that two others have been injured, one of whom has sustained injuries on the head. “Both of them have been referred to Cuttack,” he said.
The DGP also admitted that 5-6 people, who had been watching the pulling of the chariots from a rooftop, had been injured when people fell over one another in the rush to have a glimpse of the moving chariots, categorically denying reports of a wall collapse. “Their injuries are of a minor nature,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed profound grief over the deaths and announced that the deceased will get Rs 5 lakh each as compensation under the accident insurance cover as announced earlier by the state government. The treatment expenses of the injured will also be borne by the state government, the chief minister said.
In a separate incident, one person was crushed to death under wheels of the chariots during Rath Yatra today in Brahmapur. The dead has been identified as G Jagannath Reddy.