A 65-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman died, while seven devotees were injured in a stampede-like situation at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan early Saturday, Mathura police said.
According to Superintendent of Police (City) Martand Prakash Singh, a large number of devotees had gathered for the ‘Mangla Aarti, which takes place once a year. “The ‘aarti’ was to start at 1.49am. The temple can comfortably accommodate 500-700 people at a time, however, a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 people swarmed the premises. A man and a woman passed away due to suffocation. Also, around seven people received injuries in the commotion due to overcrowding,” the SP said.
The deceased have been identified as Ram Prasad Vishwakarma of Jabalpur, and Nirmala of Noida.
“The deceased woman’s son and daughter-in-law gave an undertaking that they did not want a post-mortem to be conducted and took the body along. The deceased man’s body is in the district mortuary. Even as his wife and a daughter are around, other family members will be arriving from Jabalpur tomorrow,” the SP said.
According to Anshul Saraswat, who runs a sweet shop outside the temple, the temple was chock-a-block with devotees for the ‘aarti’. “There was no space even on the streets outside…one can imagine what it must be like inside. The humidity was high, several people experienced exhaustion and suffocation,” he said.
Sandeep Shukla, a local friend of Vishwakarma who was at the temple with latter’s daughter for the ‘aarti’, said,
“Vishwakarma and his wife entered the temple separately while their daughter Anjali was with me. There was huge rush…we looked for them for three-four hours but could not find them. Then we came back home, and around 4:30am police came to give us the bad news. His wife Saroj is being treated for chest pain at
Of the injured, five were brought to District Combined Hospital, Vrindavan around 3:30am on Saturday, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the hospital said. “All of them had minor injuries and have been discharged. Two people, Ram Prasad Vishwakarma and Nirmala, were brought dead,” he added.