Three elderly women died and 10 people were injured in a ‘stampede’ in the early hours of Saturday during heavy rush near Begusarai district’s Simaria Ghat, where many devotees had gathered for a holy dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Kartik Purnima and Ardh Kumbh.
The incident took place at Hanumant Chowk when three women — two 70-year-olds and an 80-year-old — fell down due to heavy rush in a narrow alley and died, police said.
The holy dips began at 2 am on Saturday, and the crowd surged and became uncontrollable by 4 am.
The police later denied that it was a stampede. According to PTI, Begusarai SP Aditya Kumar said the women died of suffocation. “There was a huge crowd at the Kali temple near Simaria Ghat, where people had gathered to offer prayers on the occasion of Kartik Purnima. These three women apparently felt claustrophobic and collapsed on the narrow pathway leading to the temple,” the SP told PTI.
“We have ascertained the identities of two women so far. One of them hailed from Noorsarai in Nalanda and another from Sitamarhi. Attempts are being made to establish the identity of the third woman,” the SP added.
According to PTI, ADG (Headquarters) Sunil Kumar Singhal also said the deaths were caused due to suffocation.
Asked if he was ruling out a possibility of stampede, Singhal told PTI, “We will reach a final conclusion only after post-mortem reports arrive. If any negligence on part of the police is found, accountability will be fixed. The IG zone and DIG range will also take stock of the situation.”
According to PTI, Sadar Deputy Superintendent of Police Mithilesh Kumar had said, “We are trying to ascertain the cause behind the incident.”
The state government has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also asked district officials to provide free treatment to the injured. (With inputs from PTI)