Lack of security arrangements led to stampede: witnessesAugust 3rd, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS
Naina Devi (Himachal Pradesh), Aug 3 (IANS) Lack of security arrangements around the historical Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh led to the stampede Sunday that has claimed at least 145 lives, eyewitnesses and survivors said. The administration did not deploy sufficient police force even as the devotees numbered in thousands, Likhi Ram, who saw the tragedy unfold, told IANS.
Naresh Sood, a shopkeeper dealing with puja material, said the administration was not prepared for the heavy rush.
He said generally the number of devotees goes up during the last three days of the 10-day Shravan Ashtami fair, but this was for the first time in the past 20 years that he witnessed such a huge crowd on the second day of the fair.
Moreover, government officials were busy in the statewide Jan-Jan Sanjivni Van Abhiyaan, a plantation drive that was launched Sunday.
Eyewitness Ram Thakur said it was volunteers who carried out most of rescue works as officials reached the spot four hours after the accident.
He added the inclement weather too hampered the evacuation of the injured.
Raj Kumar, a survivor, said vehicles on the road to the temple could not move for more than two hours due to traffic mismanagement.
He said there was no provision for life-saving drugs at the community health centre nearby.