Devotee dies in queue before Puri Temple

Puri: A devotee died after falling ill in the long queue in front of the Lion`s Gate of Shri Jagannath temple while two others were injured in separate incidents in the pilgrim town of Orissa on the New Year`s day today, police said. Shankar Rao (55) of IRC village, Bhubaneswar, fainted while proceeding in between the bamboo baricade put up on the Grand Road to have a glimpse of the deities at the 12th century shrine.

He was immediately taken to the district headquarters hospital here and doctors declared him dead, hospital sources said adding the cause of the death was being ascertained. In the second incident, one Rajendra Goud of Cuttack suffered serious head injury after being beaten allegedly by the police as the cops were controlling crowd on Grand Road. He was undergoing treatment at the district headquarters hospital here, they said.

In another mishap, a New Year reveller from Ranchi, Bikash Kumar got drowned in the sea while taking bath but was rescued by local people. As his condition became serious, he was shifted to SCB Medical College Hospital at Cuttack. As scores of devotees thronged the 12th century shrine to seek the blessing of Lord Jagannath on New Year, the district administration made arrangements including putting up baricades and deployment of police personnel.

However, there was no cover atop the long barricades nor was any emergency exit point which led to the incident, a devotee said. After about four days of cloudy weather under the impact of the cyclonic storm in southern coast, the sky remained clear today.