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Collective failure of authorities blamed for Dusshera tragedy

Patna: Nearly two months after the Dusshera stampede left 33 dead, a government inquiry has blamed “collective failure” of civic and police authorities for the tragedy and said rumours and attempts of molestation and eve
PTI November 29, 2014 16:16 IST

Patna: Nearly two months after the Dusshera stampede left 33 dead, a government inquiry has blamed “collective failure” of civic and police authorities for the tragedy and said rumours and attempts of molestation and eve teasing led to the the crush.

Principal Secretary, Home, Amir Subhani said administrative and disciplinary action will be taken against erring officials as recommended by the inquiry panel, which found “administrative lapses” and ruled out any terror angle.  

“During our probe we found several deficiencies in the arrangements due to which the stampede could not be prevented.  After paying attention to all aspects of the incident we found that the district administration, district police administration, Patna Municipal Corporation and the traffic police were responsible for it,” Subhani told a press meet here.

The probe report by him and Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey, who was present at the meet, pointed to collective failure of district administration, district police, Patna Municipal Corporation and traffic police for the tragedy.

The report, which was submitted to the government yesterday, has recommended administrative and disciplinary action against officials responsible for the tragedy.

The ADG ruled out any terror angle to the stampede and said no such connection was discovered during the probe.  

“Eyewitness accounts and other facets of the enquiry revealed that a cable TV wire had fallen on the ground near the exit gate opening towards Ram Goolam chowk and a rumour about electric current running in it spread,” Subhani said.  

“A big crowd was coming out of the southern gate of Gandhi Maidan at that time and the rumour caused the stampede People fell on each other and got trampled to death,” he said.  

The stampede that occurred near the southern gate of the 62-acre maidan soon after the Ravan Vadh programme on October 3 evening left 33 people dead and 29 others injured. Most of them were women and children.

The government has already removed the entire administrative top brass of Patna district after the incident including Divisional Commissioner of Patna N Vijay Lakshmi, District Magistrate Manish Verma and Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj.

Subhani said the eyewitnesses and relatives of the dead and injured in the stampede had said that eve teasing and attempts of molestation by miscreants and rowdy elements were also reasons for the stampede.

Giving details of the report, he said there was no detailed crowd management plan for the event. The high mast light near the place of incident was not working, additional lights were not installed, deputed magistrates were less in number and some of them were absent from duty.  

The cow-catcher at the gate at Ram Goolam chowk was damaged, loudspeakers had not been arranged to direct the movement of people and traffic was not stopped to facilitate the exit of huge crowd from Gandhi Maidan.  Subhani said action will be taken against the officials within the procedure laid out in the service rules but did not name anyone.

“The stampede was the result of collective failure, not because of any one person. Administrative and disciplinary action will be taken against the responsible officials. It is known who all are among them. The government will make a list of responsible people and take action,” Subhani added.  Pandey said Ravan Vadh is a very important programme and the probe report has recommended that it be held at two places in the state capital to divide the crowd, which comes from Patna and neighbouring districts.

The report has also recommended construction of watch towers at each of the four gates of the Gandhi Maidan to oversee any big programme organised there.  “Each of these watch towers will have a control room, CCTV camera to look into the crowd, public address system, arrangements for lights and other such things to facilitate organising big programmes smoothly,” Pandey said.  The ADG said the report has also recommended that the DM and SSP should visit the place at least 24 hours before any big event and see whether proper arrangements are in place or not.

“If they are not satisfied the officials should either cancel permission to hold the event or ensure that the required arrangements are in place before the event starts,” he added.