Datia (MP): At least 60 people were feared killed and over 100 injured in a stampede on Sunday near a temple at Ratangarh in Madhya Pradesh's Datia district caused by rumours that a bridge they were crossing was about to collapse.
"Nearly 50-60 people are feared killed in the stampede on the bridge over Sindh river leading to the temple following rumours by some unidentified persons that it is collapsing," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Chambal Range, D K Arya told PTI.
The mishap occurred when a large number of devotees arrived from Datia and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh at the Durga temple at Ratangarh, about 60 kms from the district headquarters, Arya said.
Nearly 100 people have been injured in the mishap and they have been admitted in nearby hospitals, he said.
Meanwhile, police resorted to mild lathicharge to control an angry crowd which pelted stones at the cops.
A sub divisional police officer suffered serious injuries after being hit by stones, the DIG said, adding that some other policemen were also injured.
The state government, with the approval of the State Election Commission, has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the kin of those killed in the stampede.
The government also announced an assistance of Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 each for those who suffered minor injuries in the mishap.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed grief over the tragedy.
'Some devotees fell off the bridge'
An eyewitness said police personnel used batons to control the surging crowd and this led to the crowd stampeding.
In the stampede, some of the devotees are feared to have fallen off the bridge into the river flowing below.
Deputy Inspector General of Police D.K. Arya told IANS that at least 60 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the accident.
He said the toll was likely to increase as many pilgrims were critically injured and some were missing after falling off the bridge.
Datia legislator Narottam Mishra, who is also the state government spokesman, said the stampede did not occur due to alleged police baton charge, but following a rumour that the bridge was collapsing. He said he was on way to Ratangarh to oversee the rescue operation.
Datia is about 390 km from state capital Bhopal.
The Ratangarh Durga Mata temple is located in dense forest on the bank of Sindh river, in Datia district. Every year thousands of devotees flock the temple during the Navratri festival. The maximum crowds are witnessed on the last day of the nine-day festive period.