BJP defends Nitish, says 'Chhat Puja stampede should not be politicised'

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 07:10 hrs

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday expressed its condolences to all those who lost their lives in the stampede that took place during the Chhat Puja celebrations in Patna, and said that the incident should not be politicised.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain came out in full defence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has come under criticism following the incident, and said that the whole state should be united on this issue.

"This is an accident. The administration had made all arrangements on its part. Whole Bihar should be united on this issue. But one should not play politics on this untoward happening because this is an accident. The Chief Minister is himself looking into it. Chhat Puja is being celebrated in Bihar with fervor and gaiety and such an accident had never taken place before," said Hussain.

"The Bharatiya Janata Party extends its full condolences to all those who lost their lives. The Chief Minister is himself looking into the entire incident and has also announced compensation to the victims. There should be no politics on this accident," he added.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar late on Monday night denied reports that the stampede took place because of the collapse of a makeshift bridge

"One thing is clear that this incident did not occur due to collapsing of the make shift bridge but due to stampede the reason of which is yet to be ascertained. The provincial Interior minister has been directed to initiate a probe in the matter. He has already made preliminary inspection of the stampede site and is yet to make a detailed enquiry in order to throw more light on the situation," said Kumar.

Kumar appealed people to go ahead with the festivity and assured the devotees that all arrangements have been made for their safety.

"All arrangements have been made in order to facilitate the culmination of the morning prayers of the festival. Authorities have been deployed so that people do not face any difficulties. Appropriate arrangements have been made in areas of steep elevation like near the Pipapul (bridge), which also has narrow entrance," said Kumar.

"Adequate measures are in place to help reach there and regulate the heavy rush of devotees. Officials will be present in large numbers to assist devotees at the other make shift bridge and give them directions," he added.

The Chief Minister also urged the people not to politicise the mishap and announced compensation for the kin of deceased from the state government.

"I offer deep condolences to the bereaved families and announce a monetary compensation of rupees 1,50,000 from the state government and 50,000 from the chief minister's relief fund. Action and responsibility would be determined after the conclusion of the probe," said Kumar.

"It is my appeal to the people not to get affected by rumours and continue the festivity by performing morning prayers at the riverbanks," he added.

At least 20 people, including children and women, mostly devotees, were killed and several others were injured in a stampede during Chhat festival celebrations in Patna earlier on Monday evening.

According to certain media reports, the shocking incident took place after a temporary bridge made of bamboo collapsed due to heavy rush of people, mainly devotees and their family members. (ANI)

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