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India's worst religious stampedes

Last updated on: March 4, 2010 18:02 IST

Maha Kumbh Mela (1954): 800 dead

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63 lives were lost in Uttar Pradesh on March 4, 2010 in a stampede. Reasons why the calamity occurred are still not clear. India has, in the past, seen a number of stampedes in which hundreds have died. We take a look at the worst of the lot.

Over 800 people were killed and 100 injured in a stampede at the Mahakumbh Mela in 1954.

Considering that it was the first Kumbh Mela after the Independence, many leading politicians had visited the city during the event, which goes for over 40 days. What compounded the failure of crowd control measures, over 5 millions pilgrims visit Allahabad during the festival, was not just the presence of large number of politicians.

The fact that the Ganga river had changed course and moved in closer to the Bund (embankment) and the city, further reduced the available space of the temporary Kumbh township and movement of the people.

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Mandra Devi temple (2005): 350 dead

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At least 350 people were killed and over 200 injured in a stampede at a religious fair in Wai in Satara district of western Maharashtra on January 26, 2005.

The stampede occurred during the annual Mandra Devi Yatra at the Mandra Devi temple, located on a hill in Wai, sources said.

According to preliminary reports, a short circuit led to the stampede.

A narrow path that leads to the temple was packed with devotees, around 200,000 according to some estimates, trying to escape the fire and the melee, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach the spot.



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Chamunda Devi temple (2008): 200 killed

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Over 200 people were crushed to death and over 100 injured in a stampede early morning on September 30, 2008 caused by a rush of devotees in the Chamunda Devi temple in the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort on a hillock in Jodhpur on the first day of Navratri festival.

In a virtual repeat of the Naina Devi temple stampede in Himachal Pradesh, 147 devotees, mostly men, died when they were trampled upon by other pilgrims as doors of the temple opened for worship at dawn.

Some pilgrims blamed the local administration for the incident, saying proper arrangements should have been made well in advance as everyone knew that the temple draws huge crowd on such occasions.



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Naina Devi temple (2008): 160 killed

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Over 160 people were killed and several injured in a stampede at the Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh on August 3, 2008.

The tragedy took place when people gathered at one place in the temple following rumours of landslide and rolling down of stones from a nearby hilltop.

A large number of pilgrims had gathered to offer prayers on the occasion of 'Navratra' at the temple where a railing on the way to it collapsed due to heavy rush, resulting in the stampede, official sources said.

A large number of the devotees were from Himachal Pradesh and neighbouring Punjab.

The Naina Devi temple is one of the most visited temples of Devbhumi, which is thronged by lakhs of devotees. The temple is located at the height of 7,000 feet.



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Kripaluji Maharaj Ashram (2010): Over 63 dead

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At least 63 people were killed and 35 injured in a stampede after the entry gate of an overcrowded spiritual ashram in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, collapsed on March 4, 2010.

The tragedy occurred around noon when thousands of followers of swami Kripaluji Maharaj had made a beeline for his ashram in Mangarh village near Kunda town in Pratapgarh district, about 180 km from Lucknow.

UP Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal said, "63 bodies had been recovered until about 3 pm from the scene of the tragedy. However, more casualties were feared as quite a few of the injured were serious and even critical."

Thousands of followers of the Radha Krishna sect had converged at the 'Bhakti Dham' ashram of Kripaluji Maharaj to attend an annual bhandara (free lunch) hosted by him on the occasion of his wife's death anniversary.

"While the lunch on his wife's death anniversary was an annual feature, what drew people in unmanageable numbers was Krapaluji Maharaj's announcement that he would also be distributing some utensils on the occasion," local MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh told rediff.com from Kunda.



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