MP stampede: 3 officials suspended, toll touches 115

Datia/New Delhi, Oct 15: The Collector of Datia and three other top district officials were suspended on Monday night by the Madhya Pradesh government over the alleged lapse in connection with the temple stampede in which the toll of dead rose to 115.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also announced setting up of a judicial commission to probe the stampede at Ratangarh temple in Datia district during Navratri festivities yesterday, as a war of words broke out between Congress and the ruling BJP over the tragedy which has sparked an outrage.

Congress demanded Chouhan's resignation, inviting a rebuff from BJP which accused it of playing politics over dead bodies.

CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced setting up of a judicial panel for probe

The Commission, which is to be headed by a sitting High Court judge, will be asked to submit its report within two months and its recommendations will be implemented within 15 days after the state government gets the report, Chouhan said. It is expected to be constituted tomorrow.

The four officials were suspended by the MP government after getting the nod from the Election Commission as the state is under the Model Code of Conduct following announcement of assembly polls.

Collector Sanket Bhondwe, SP C S Solanki, SDM Mahip Tejaswi and Subdivisional officer of police (SDOP) B N Basave were among those suspended.

The state government had earlier in the day recommended to the State Election Commission to suspend the four officials and the entire staff of Sevdha police station.

Sources in the EC in New Delhi said the permission to suspend the officials was granted to the state government.

The decision to suspend the four top district officials was taken after Chouhan visited Datia today to review the situation and prima facie found them and policemen guilty of a major lapse that led to the stampede which also left over 100 injured.

"So far, we have received reports of 115 deaths in the stampede," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) D K Arya told PTI from Ratangarh.

The stampede was said to have been triggered by rumours that the bridge over river Sindh which the devotees were crossing was about to collapse. Several panic stricken pilgrims were also believed to have leapt to their deaths in the water below.

Lakhs of devotees had converged at Ratangarh, 60 km from Daatia district headquarters and about 320 km from state capital Bhopal, to offer prayers at a Durga temple on the occasion of Navratri when disaster struck.


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