80 killed in stampede at the Naina Devi temple

Around 80 pilgrims were feared killed and over 30 others injured today in a stampede at the Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur district in Himachal Pradesh.
“About 80 people have died and about 30 are injured as per latest reports from Bilaspur district,” Himachal Pradesh government’s Principal Secretary P C Kapoor said. The temple is located about 160 kms from Shimla.
However, Chief Minister P K Dhumal, who was in Chamba, said the toll was 68. He said he was trying to reach the spot but was stuck due to heavy rain.
Rumours of a landslide and rolling down of stones from a nearby hilltop led to a commotion which apparently caused the stampede as a large number of pilgrims tried to push their way causing collapse of a railing along the four-km trek to the temple. The pilgrims had gathered to offer prayers on the occasion of ‘Navratra’. The incident that took place around 1000 hrs, Additional District Magistrate C P Verma told reporters from the spot, about 50 kms from district headquarters of Bilaspur.
Officials said the stampede took place as there was sudden rush at a point along the temple trek caused by people returning from the hilltop shrine and those going up.
“The stampede happened after a railing fell. People started running here and there,” Kapoor said.
“It is presumed that most of the people there are from neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,” he said.
Superintendent of Police K K Indoria and other senior civil and police officials were at the spot to supervise the relief work which was hampered due to rain. The temple of under government control.
A temple functionary said devotees with minor injuries have been sent to a hospital in nearby Dawar Chowk while those with serious injuries were being sent to hospitals in Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib.
Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) S R Mardi has rushed to the incident site from Shimla. BJP MLA Randhir Sharma from Kot Kahloor, under which the Naina Devi temple of Goddess Durga falls, has also rushed to the spot. Avdhoot Investment

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