Hours after the stampede at Kachua Loknath temple in Basirhat where five people were killed, blame game began with the state government blaming the “foul weather” and temple committee, while opposition BJP held the government and administration responsible for security lapse.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blamed narrow roads and heavy rain for the incident. “Temporary bamboo stalls built on narrow approach road to the temple collapsed in heavy rain, causing the incident. There was a large crowd this year. As it started raining heavily in the wee hours, people tried to take shelter under the makeshift bamboo stalls, which collapsed. The place was narrow and in rush, a few people fell into a pond beside the temple and this created a confusion leading to a stampede-like situation there. Had we even removed those temporary shelters, that too would have created a problem,” Banerjee said.
The state government also blamed the temple committee for mismanagement. Minister Jyotipriya Mallick, who went to the spot following the incident, said temple authorities are answerable. “They were 10,000 people. Who did they inform? Who built the temporary bamboo stalls outside the temple premises on such a narrow road. The local administration met the temple committee six times, urging it to remove those temporary stalls. No one will be spared. So many people died. Someone has to take the responsibility.”
Police echoed, “There was no prior information on how many people would gather at the temple on Thursday night.”
The temple administration said they have always cooperated with the administration. “The area, which they (administration and police) are talking about, is outside the temple premises and we don’t have control over that,” said a member of the temple committee.
The BJP said the state government must take the responsibility of all the deaths and ensure a high-level inquiry.
“There should be adequate security arrangements and safety measures must be taken in places where lakhs of people congregate. The policemen posted there must anticipate that accidents could take place once a large number of devotees turn up. They should have taken steps to prevent such a situation. I think there was some lapse in security measures, which led to the accident that took so many lives and left so many injured,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
The BJP leader also asked the state government to bear all medical expenses of the injured, even as the chief minister announced compensations for the family of the deceased and injured. “Only providing compensation to the families of the deceased is not enough.
The state government must look after these families. She (Mamata Banerjee) can earn sympathies by visiting the injured in the hospital, but such move will not help find solution to a problem like this,” he added.
Later, a BJP delegation, led by state general secretary Sayantan Basu, visited the injured at Basirhat hospital. The delegation also visited the accident spot.