Temple stampede: Madhya Pradesh suspends 17 policemen

Seventeen policemen, including three senior officers, have been suspended for dereliction of duty that led to a stampede at a temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Datia district, leaving 111 people dead, an official said.

Inspector General of Police, Chambal, M.S. Afzal told journalists in Gwalior that the 17 suspended officials include three of the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

The Madhya Pradesh government had earlier suspended four top district officials after the poll panel’s nod.

The dead after Sunday’s horrific stampede at a Durga temple at Ratangarh, a forested area of Datia, 390 km north of here, included 47 women and 33 children.
The dead included at least 50 people from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

While there were unconfirmed reports of casualties from the Orai-Jalaun area, which abuts Madhya Pradesh, the district authorities there have now confirmed that 50 people, who included 33 women and children, died in the tragedy.

The state government had Monday announced a judicial probe into the tragedy.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who visited the spot and the hospital where the injured were admitted Monday, affirmed that the guilty will be punished at the earliest.

The state government later suspended District Magistrate Sanket Bhondwe, Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Solanki, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (revenue) Mahip Tejaswi and Sub-Divisional Police Officer B.N. Basawe after taking permission from the election commission — mandatory since the model code of conduct is in place ahead of assembly elections Nov 25.

The stampede at the Ratangarh temple on the last day of the Navratras was sparked off by a rumour that the bridge to it over the Sindh river had collapsed and the subsequent use of force by the police personnel to control the crowd. Women and children were trampled in the stampede while many people jumped into the fast flowing river below.–IANS