30 Sep :In one of worst tragedies in Rajasthan, at least 180 people, mostly men, were killed and about 30 injured in a stampede that took place when thousands of devotees gathered at a 15th century temple here on the occasion of Navaratri festival on Tuesday.
The worshippers had gathered at the Chamunda Devi Temple situated on a hill top in the precincts of Mehrangarh Fort when the tragedy struck at around 5.30 am after some devotees slipped on a slope causing the stampede.
At least 103 people have died while 29 others, who were injured, were being treated in various hospitals, Rajasthan’s Principal Secretary (Home) S N Thanvi said.
"As some devotees slipped on the slope on the temple path, others gathered there started falling on each other causing the stampede. A majority of those killed died due to suffocation as a result of the stampede," he said in Jaipur.
Director General of Police (DGP), Rajasthan, K S Bains, however, said that nearly 100 people were injured in the incident.
Officials said most of the dead were men as the stampede took place in the separate queue for males for going to the temple.
About 15 to 20 people were killed at the stop and the others succumbed to their injuries in Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Mathura Das Hospital and Sun City Hospital, among others, in Jodhpur, they said.
The dead include a large number of young people, they said.
The devotees in large numbers, including women, had gathered at the temple from early this morning on the occasion of Navaratri festival.
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said sufficient police deployment had been ensured and there were separate queues for men and women.
But there was a huge rush in the queue for men and some people slipped on a slope which led to the stampede, Kataria said.
The civil authorities have sought the help of the army to deal with the situation, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Kanhaiya Lal said.
Officials said that the stampede occurred as the devotees along the 2-km-long route to the temple tried to rush towards its door as soon as it opened.
The situation went out of control as devotees, carrying offerings, jostled with each other and tried to rush towards the temple door breaking the barricades, they said.
Inspector General of Police, Jodhpur, Rajiv Dasod said some of the devotees slipped on the 75-metre-long slope on the temple path causing the stampede in the 100-metre zone around it.
"There has been no casualty in the queue for women in which a large number of children were also present," he added.
In Jaipur, Chief Secretary D C Samant called a high-level meeting to discuss the relief and rescue measures, official sources said.Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is holding Navratra prayers at Tripura Sundari in Banswara district, will visit Jodhpur, the sources said.
A few eyewitness to the incident told police that a side wall of the temple had also collapsed due to pressure from the large number of devotees.Chamuda Devi Temple is the "Kul Devi" of the former Maharajah of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh, and is run by a private trust. DDINEWS