Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board: Scuffle between two groups resulted in stampede

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, only 35,000 pilgrims were allowed to participate in the yatra, compared to an usual capacity of 50,000

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Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board: Scuffle between two groups resulted in stampede

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) released a statement on the Saturday stampede, claiming that it was caused by a "scuffle" between two groups of pilgrims.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement made on Saturday (January 1, 2022) evening came amid claims of mismanagement and stated that only 35,000 pilgrims were allowed to participate in the yatra, compared to the regular capacity of 50,000.

The Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, who is also the Chairman of the Board, was informed of the stampede at 3 a.m. and has been continuously monitoring the situation since then, according to the statement.

"National Green Tribunal has capped the normal capacity of Yatra per day to 50,000. Pertinently, keeping in view the COVID-19 Pandemic, 35,000 pilgrims were allowed to proceed for yatra on 31st December 2021 and for 1st January 2022," the SMVDSB said in a detailed statement on the tragic incident that killed 12 and injured dozens.

The rush occurred about 2:15 a.m. on January 1 outside Gate number three at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, according to the report.

"The unfortunate incident, due to a scuffle between two groups of pilgrims, resulted in the stampede. In this ill-fated incident, a total of 12 pilgrims lost their lives and 16 others were injured," it said.

After administering first aid at Medical Unit Bhawa, the Board and the Reasi District Administration rushed the injured pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Kakryal, according to the statement.

According to the statement, the bodies of the deceased, which included 10 men and two women pilgrims, were taken to the Community Health Centre Katra for identification and subsequent legal formalities.

"Of the 12 deceased pilgrims, two have been shifted by air and nine by road to their native destinations by the Shrine Board Administration with the assistance of UT Administration. The lone left-out dead body will be shifted tomorrow morning by Air from GMC, Jammu," the SMVDSB said.

Nine pilgrims have been discharged from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Hospital in Kakryal, while seven others are still being treated there, according to the report.

The Lieutenant Governor has announced that the deceased will receive Rs 10 lakhs in ex gratia and the injured will receive Rs 2 lakhs.

Meanwhile, the Mata Vaishno Devi yatra is progressing well, with approximately 27,000 pilgrims visiting the cave shrine on Saturday to worship.

On Saturday evening, members of the inquiry committee tasked with investigating the incident went to the scene of the incident at Bhawan to get a firsthand report.

The officers spoke with the Chief Executive Officer of the SMVDSB, Deputy Commissioner Reasi, SP Katra, Commanding Officer of the CRPF, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Bhawan, and other authorities, as well as reviewing the video footage.

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has also established a dedicated hotline at 01991-234804 and 01991-234053. The district administration has established the following helplines: DC Reasi Control Room: 01991-245763/9419839557, PCR Katra: 01991-232010/9419145182, and PCR Reasi: 01991245076/9622856295, according to the statement.

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