11 devotees killed, 18 injured in stampede at Pavagadh temple

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Vadodara, Oct 14 (UNI) At least 11 devotees were killed and 18 others injured today in a stampede at the famous Maha Kali temple atop the 850 meter high Pavagadh hill, a world heritage site in the Panchmahal district, about 45 km from here.

Within hours, the Gujarat government ordered for a magisterial probe into the incident.

According to Panchmahal District Collector Milind Borbane, the stampede took place at around 1100 hrs near the Tarapur Darwaja, a few metres away from the main temple, following huge gathering of devotees.

District Superintendent of Police Dipankar Trivedi said the stampede reportedly took place when one of the devotees fell down on the narrow staircase near Tarapur Darwaja, after he was pushed by the crowd while trying to pick up his Bhog packet.

Following the incident, the devotees returning from the main temple through the narrow staircase fell on each other resulting in the death of 11 people, including four women and as many children, on the spot. Eighteen others injured in the stampede were rushed to the Halol Referral Hospital and the SSG Civil Hospital in Vadodara, the SP said.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the injured at Halol hospital, has announced a compensation of Rs one lakh each to the kins of the deceased and free medical care to the injured.

Condoling the death of the devotees, Mr Modi blamed the Union government for the stampede saying that the Forest department was not clearing the state government's proposal to widen the staircase and the approach road to the temple atop the hill.

When asked, the DSP said there was no negligence on the part of the police and security arrangement was made for smooth 'darshan' of the deity.

''The staircase where the stampede took place all of a sudden, was extremely narrow. Moreover, a record number of about 600,000 devotees today thronged the temple on the occasion of Navratri festival as against our assessment of 150,000 to 200,000,'' he added.

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