The Bihar government has removed several top officials, including Patna DM Manish Kumar and Commissioner N Vijaylakshmi, after the district administration came under severe attack over the Dusshera stampede at Gandhi Maidan which claimed 33 lives and left several injured.
Manish Kumar, N Vijaylakshmi, DIG Ajitabh Kumar and SSP Manu Maharaj have been “transferred”, but were asked to wait for their new postings.
A joint team of Bihar Home Secretary Amir Subhani and ADGP (headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey on Sunday recorded statement of over two dozen police officers — from additional superintendents of police to sub inspectors — deployed at the “killer” southern gate opening at Exhibition Road. The team is likely to submit report to the government within 10 days.
Though the function on October 3 was organised by Ramlila committee, Patna Municipal Corporation was responsible for traffic control, crowd management and security. Lighting at the Gandhi Maidan is responsibility of Patna Municipal Corporation.
Most deaths took place along the 30-metre stretch from the gate to Ramgulam Chowk because of the area “being dark and outer area either fully encroached by vendors or clogged by parked vehicles”. Home Secretary Amir Subhani said: “We have been probing all angles to know if it was a rumour or a conspiracy that led to the stampede. We have collected CCTV footage of Gandhi Maidan. We are also trying to know if district administration failed to coordinate with Patna Municipal Corporation to provide adequate lighting at Gandhi Maidan during the Ravan Vadh”.
The ADGP Pandey said though 10 DSPs were demanded for Gandhi Maidan arrangements, they had been trying know why only five DSPs could be deployed. “We also want to know if all senior officials deputed for the function had been actually on duty or not, and how many of them stayed back till the crowd dispersed from the venue.”
Asked about the responsibility of Ramlila committee that organises the annual function, the ADGP said it was a private committee and “crowd management and law and order was the sole responsibility of district administration”.
Gandhi Maidan police has lodged an FIR against unknown persons for “spreading rumour of livewire falling on gate”, while it was cable connection wire that had tripped some visitors during exit.
Meanwhile, police control room that collected CCTV footage of Gandhi Maidan claimed that six of the eight gates were open at the time of stampede.