Puri (Odisha), Nov 10 : At least 30 devotees, mostly elderly women habisyalis, sustained injuries following a stampede-like-situation inside Sri Jagannath temple during the Mangal arati darshan of the Trinity on Friday.
One Habisyali sustained a severe injury on her leg and is being treated in the district headquarters hospital.
According to sources, a large number of devotees including habisyalis were waiting at Simhadwar, the main entrance to the temple in the morning. When they were allowed there was heavy rush as the general devotees also entered the temple.
At Inside temple inner space known as “Kurmabedha” while devotees were entering through Sat Pahach (seven steps door) and Ghanti dwar, the two doors to the main temple, there was a stampede like situation because of heavy rush.
Many Habisyalis fell down, scores of others experienced severe suffocation and fell unconscious with profusely vomiting.
Temple security and police shifted them to an air conditioned temple office room and provided ORS drink before escorting them to district headquarters hospital in phases.
Despite tall claims by the administration that adequate arrangements were put in place for elderly habisyalis in the temple who are observing month long Kartik brata at government expense, this incident reflects utter failure of Jagannath temple police (JTP) and regular government police for smooth darshan of deities.
Many attributed the reason to poor management of the pilgrim crowd. Though a large number of devotees were already waiting behind the barricades at Simhadwar the volunteers brought thousands of Habisyalis in buses and left them at the temple gate.
When the barricades lifted all tried to enter. The security personnel were unable to provide habisyalis safe passage into the temple.
This apart the ambulance service was inadequate as injured have to wait lying in helpless condition in temple premises for their turn to be taken to the hospital.
Superintendent of police K Vishal Singh told media persons that there was no stampede in the temple.
Some devotees, he said, were injured in the rush. Some had vomiting and suffocation.
Most of the devotees were discharged from the hospital. We have deployed fifteen platoons of police force for smooth movement of devotees in the temple.
Five platoons of police forces will be added during Diwali and Kartik purnima, the important festive days, the SP said.