Jammu: An unfortunate stampede incident had occurred Saturday at about 0215 Hrs. near Gate No. 3 at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan; that resulted in death of 12 pilgrims and injury to another 16 pilgrims.
The rescue and evacuation operations were promptly launched as part of the well established S.O.P. by the joint teams of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board authorities, District Administration, Police & CRPF; and the situation was brought under control within a span of 05 minutes.
The dead bodies were swiftly shifted to C.H.C. Katra for further medico-legal formalities. Meanwhile, the injured pilgrims after being given first-aid at the Medical Unit, Bhawan, were immediately shifted for specialized treatment to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Super-Specialty Hospital, Kakryal. By this evening, 9 out of total 16 injured pilgrims have already been discharged; and the condition of remaining 7 pilgrims is stable who are being continuously monitored by a team of Doctors.
The Lieutenant Governor, J&K who has been personally monitoring the whole situation since early morning also visited the Super-Specialty Hospital, Kakryal Saturday afternoon and enquired about the health of injured pilgrims and interacted with them. He also directed the officials to ensure that the ex-gratia amount of Rs.10 lacs for the deceased and Rs.2 lacs for the injured, already announced by the Government, should be released in favour of the legal heirs on priority in a hassle free manner.
It is pertinent to mention that the Shrine Board and District Administration, Reasi had immediately established contact with the relatives of 12 deceased pilgrims after the incident; who hail from Uttar Pradesh (07), New Delhi (03), Haryana (01) and Rajouri, J&K (01). By Saturday afternoon itself; 11 out of total 12 bodies were dispatched to the designated addresses; accompanied by their relatives and Police Personnel of J&K Police.
Whereas bodies of 09 pilgrims were sent by road and bodies of 02 pilgrims bound for Kanpur, U.P; were sent by Air from Jammu to Lucknow. The body of remaining 01 deceased pilgrim is scheduled to be dispatched tomorrow morning by Air via Jammu-Delhi flight.
Meanwhile, the members of constituted inquiry committee viz ADGP Jammu Zone and Divisional Commissioner, Jammu visited the site of the incident at Bhawan Saturday evening; and took a first-hand account. The officers interacted with CEO, SMVDSB, Deputy Commissioner Reasi, S.P. Katra, C.O. CRPF, SDM Bhawan and other officials and also scrutinized the video footage. The committee mentioned that further details are being sought after which any conclusive findings can be drawn. However, prima facie it appears that some kind of minor scuffle between few pilgrims may have led to the stampede near Gate no.3, where the pathway has a steep gradient.
The ADGP and Divisional Commissioner lauded the efforts of the field teams of Shrine Board, District Administration, Police and CRPF; who were manning the Bhawan area; for their prompt action and bringing the situation immediately under control, thereby averting any further loss. Further, the Divisional Commissioner added that in the backdrop of NGT order and Covid protocol, the daily capping of Yatra is being strictly restricted to maximum 35,000 pilgrims per day. Meanwhile, the yatra is continuing smoothly, with approx 27,000 pilgrims having done darshan at the Holy Shrine Saturday.