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In ’08, stampedes have killed 360, blasts 156

Posted by Yogesh on Wednesday, 1 October, 2008

NEW DELHI: Stampedes are bigger killers in India than bomb blasts that so dramatically capture our mindspace. In 2008 alone so far, over 360 people lost their life in major stampedes compared to 156 killed by bomb blasts.

This year is not an aberration. Data collated for the last nearly nine years shows that while 875 people have lost their lives in stampedes that were big enough to make the national press, 766 have been killed by terror bombs.

The actual number killed in stampedes may be even higher. What we have collated is based on press reports, since no centralized data base exists for such incidents, unlike with terror attacks. It is also clear that single bomb blasts rarely kill people in the kind of large numbers that are associated with stampedes.

The 1993 Mumbai blasts, which killed 257 people, had an unusually high toll, but there are several stampedes that have casualty figures in three digits.

The stampede at Mandher Devi temple in Satara district of Maharastra in 2005, for instance, claimed at least 340 lives and injured several others. A sudden fire in the compound caused the stampede when more than 1.5 lakh people had assembled for an annual pilgrimage to the goddess.

Similarly, the Naina Devi temple stampede in Himachal Pradesh claimed 162 lives and injured nearly 400 people.

Yet, while all hell breaks loose when there is a bomb blast, there is precious little done to prevent stampedes, which are essentially caused by inefficient crowd management. Setting up inquiry committees is, predictably, a favoured option of governments bit whether anything is gained as a result is a moot question.

One example illustrates the point rather starkly. The Justice P K Mohanty Committee was appointed by the Orissa government to probe the November 2006 stampede in the Puri Jagannath temple that killed 4 devotees.

Before the committee could even submit its report, the temple complex witnessed another stampede in July 2008, this time claiming six lives.

As TOI had reported, the August 2008 stampede at Naina Devi temple was also a repetition of a similar incident in 1978 in which 65 people had died. There have been three stampedes in railway stations – Mughalsarai in 2007, which killed 15 people, Delhi 2004 and Lucknow 2002, which took 5 and 12 lives respectively.

Similarly, the 2005 Nov stampedes in a Chennai flood relief center, which claimed 6 lives, was repeated in Dec, this time to kill 42 people. Source The Times of India

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