Mass Funeral of the Stampede Victims

August 4, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Thaindian News/ANI

A mass funeral for 11 victims of the ”Naina Devi” temple stampede was organised in Rajpura in Patiala District of Punjab today.

Thirty children and 38 women were among those killed in the stampede that was apparently sparked off by rumours of a landslide at the hill shrine in Bilaspur District of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday.

Officials said most of the people died of suffocation as tens of thousands of pilgrims had converged at the shrine, located about 165 kilometres from Shimla, to celebrate the nine-day Shravan Navratra festival.

Police said rumours of a landslide spread through the crowd in the morning, causing panic. Pilgrims at the shrine began to flee down a narrow path and collided with crowds walking towards the temple. With a concrete wall on one side and a vertical drop on the other, many were crushed to death.

There were also reports that a railing at the shrine collapsed under the weight of the crowd, sending many people falling down a narrow, steep staircase.

Among those killed, 104 were from Punjab and 32 from Haryana

The Himachal Pradesh Government has ordered a commissioner-level inquiry into the incident.

The families of the victims bore the pain of the bereavement and consoled each other.

Children were brutally victimised as those who fell down were trampled by pilgrims running in panic.

My wife wasn”t there my kids were there. My daughter was 12 years old and my son was 8 years old. Both of them lost their lives. My relative[']s wife, two boys and two daughters even passed away, said Narenderpal, deceased[']s father.

In the emotionally charged aftermath of the stampede the Tibetan Buddhist monks-in-exile in Shimla offered special prayers for the pilgrims killed in stampede.