Stampede at Sabarimala; 15 injured

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Pathanamthitta, Dec 8 (UNI) Fifteen Ayyappa devotees were injured, two of them seriously, in a stampede at Sannidhanam today.

A minor stampede occurred following a heavy rush resulting in jostling for 'Darshan,' police said.

Seriously injured people, Kanthaswami (30) of Salem in Tamil Nadu and Balraj (43) of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh were admitted to Pathanamthitta General Hospital and Sannidhanam Government Hospital respectively. The majority of them suffered only minor bruises.

Madhavi Amma (63) of Kadakkal, who swooned in the scorching sun, had been admitted to Sannidhanam Government Hospital.

Devotees stood in queues for 14 hours to get a chance to have a darsan of Lord Ayyappa.

At 'Neyyabhishekam' counters, the prolonged wait reached five hours, while it was seven hours wait before Aravana counters.

The serpentine queue went beyond Marakkoottam during 'Nirmalya-Darshan'.

Small vehicles were diverted to Nilackal, when the parking grounds at Chakkupallam, Hill-Top and Thriveni were full.

The barricade from Marakkoottam to Valiya Nadappanthal were jam-packed. Police had a tough time in controlling the pilgrims.

Meanwhile, Yuva Morcha activists laid a seige to the office of Travancore Devaswam Board President C K Guptan from 1650 hrs to 1800hrs, demanding provision of basic amenities to the pilgrims, including drinking water.

The blockade was lifted after Mr Guptan agreed to ''consider'' the demands.

UNI

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