Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday staged protest and gheraoed the Tehsil office at Baramba in Cuttack demanding probe into the stampede on T-Bridge during Makar Mela, which left a woman dead and several injured.

The Yuva Morcha of BJP (BJYM) alleged that a special corridor was made for the visit of a BJD MLA to the Singhanath shrine on Makar Mela diverting security forces deployed for crowd control. So, when the crowd went berserk and stampede occurred, no police personnel were there on the bridge to control it.

BJP leader, Bijay Dalabehera said, “At a time when a woman’s death in the stampede was mourned in the area, MLA, Debi Prasad Mishra was busy feasting with his block office officials.”

“Mishra, along with the Tehsildar, who did not call for an all-party-meeting before arranging the Mela with such a magnitude, and the police are responsible for this mishap. The police are responsible because they did not put any barricade to manage the crowd and whatever personnel they had deployed on the bridge were diverted for the security of the MLA. We demand a probe into the matter.” Dalabehera added.

However, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) refuted the allegations. Addressing a press conference, Baramba BJD President, Rabindra Sahoo said, “The allegations are absolutely baseless. The MLA’s vehicle dropped him 150 mtrs before the T-Bridge. He went to the Singhanath Shrine by walking.”

“They (BJP) gave me a memorandum, which I will forward to my superiors. There is no question of any administrative negligence. A lot more people came to the shrine than the administration had expected. So, with a limited number of police personnel, it was very difficult to control the crowd,” clarified Tehsildar Nilakantha Behera.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the injured have raised questions on the government’s announcement of free treatment of the victims. Jitendra Das, the son of an injured person said, “The government did not help us at all. The doctor prescribed medicines which I had to buy from a chemist shop outside. I have already spent Rs 15,000 on treatment. The government should not have lied about offering free treatment."

On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, there was a huge rush on the newly inaugurated famous T-Bridge which connects Singhanath shrine located in the middle of the Mahanadi River. It was when the devotees were negotiating along the bridge that a stampede took place.

As ambulances couldn’t reach the spot because of the rush on the bridge, the injured persons were shifted to Baramba hospital on motorcycles.

The stampede resulted in the death of a woman while 20 others were injured.

(Reported By Sarbeswar Swain, OTV)