Patna: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav on Tuesday lashed out at Nitish Kumar over the stampede that took place during the Chhat Puja celebrations in Patna, and said that the Bihar Chief Minister should take moral responsibility for the untoward incident and step down from his post.
Taking a jibe at Kumar, Yadav said the Chief Minister was in Pakistan when the preparations for the Chhat Puja festival was taking place.
"The Chief Minister, who very often gets angry, was in Pakistan when the preparations were taking place. It was published in the media that the Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi has taken the command and is reviewing all arrangements. The preparations were not done properly," said Yadav.
"Waste materials got mixed with water in which devotees takes a holy dip. The wastewater should have been diverted to somewhere else," he added, while emphasizing that this was mere negligence on part of the Bihar Government for no adequate arrangements were made for the common man.
Yadav further said the Bihar Government would be duly punished for the incident for there is anger among the people of the state.
"People of the state are watching the latest developments. He and his government will surely be punished," said Yadav.
"He is now asking the parties not to play politics on this. This is not playing politics. If somebody visits the hospital to see the injured, this not politics," he added.
Describing Nitish Kumar to be arrogant in nature, Yadav further said the Chief Minister wants to make Bihar into Singapore and nothing is working out.
A visibly tense Bihar Chief Minister 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.