2006 Puri stampede: Commission questions crowd control measures

Bhubaneswar: The Justice PK Mohanty Commission set up by Odisha government to inquire into the stampede in Puri Jagannath temple on November 4th 2006, has hinted at laxity in security measures inside the temple which was ‘overcrowded’ on that day due to the ‘panchak’ festival.

The stampede had occurred within the premises of the shrine resulting in the death of four persons and injuries to several others.

In its report, which was presented in the Odisha Assembly on Monday, the Commission has mentioned that security measures were almost ‘non-existent’ despite the congregation of a large number of pilgrims inside the temple.

The Commission has also questioned the efficiency of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Temple security, who deployed only one ASI near a sensitive location like Sata Pahacha (seven steps) in the northern main gate, which normally gets crowded on special occasions like this. The officer, along with an Inspector, was present near the ‘Behran dwar’ of the 12th century shrine, the report noted.

In its report, the Commission has also mentioned that temple rituals were followed as per schedule on the fateful day leading to a huge gathering of devotees inside the temple.

To avoid recurrence of such mishaps in future, the Commission has recommended that on a daily basis, not more than 50-70 tickets should be issued for Paramamnik Darshan of the deities. It has also said that the rest of the devotees can watch the ‘Mangala Alati’ from the Nata Mandap of the temple.

While no devotees should be allowed to stay atop the Anasar Pindi, no persons other than the servitors would enter inside the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple during rituals.