Datia: The death toll in Sunday's stampede near a famous temple in Datia, Madhya Pradesh, has risen to 115 and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan faced angry sloganeering when he visited the injured in hospital today.
The Congress has demanded that the Chief Minister of the election-bound state resign immediately. The BJP has admitted that there were "some lapses here on part of the police." But a party spokesman said by asking for Mr Chouhan's resignation, the "Congress is playing politics on corpses." (Who said what)
The stampede happened on the ninth day of the Navrata festival when lakhs of devotees visit the Ratangarh temple. It was reportedly triggered by the rumour that a bridge across the Sindh river, which devotees were crossing to reach the temple, was about to collapse.
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh tweeted, "Reason for Ratangarh Mata disaster? Police was charging 200 from each tractor and allowing in no traffic zone. Good Governance in MP?"
Others like Kamalnath and Jyotiraditya Scindia too slammed the state government and the police and questioned the lack of preparedness at the Datia temple, where about 50 people had been washed away at exactly the same spot in 2006.
Witnesses have claimed that the police deployed at the bridge used batons on the crowds. Mr Kamalnath alleged today that the cops did so to make way for a BJP leader to pass, leading to the chaos. The Congress has called the tragedy a "man-made disaster that could have been avoided."
Madhya Pradesh minister and Datia MLA Dr Narottam Mishra said, "There have been some lapses here on part of the police. That will be investigated. But the Congress leaders should not politicise the issue."
The man under attack, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, today gingerly promised action against those guilty and compensation for victims, repeatedly reminding people that for every move he now has to seek the Election Commission's permission lest it violate the model code of conduct in the state which will vote for a new Assembly next month. (Highlights)
After visiting the injured in hospital, he also said, "A commission of inquiry to look into yesterday's stampede would be set up within two days."
Mr Chouhan hopes to win a third straight term as chief minister in assembly elections to be held in Madhya Pradesh on November 25. The Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 2003, will use every opportunity to try and ensure he does not get that third term.