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7 killed in Kumbh stampede in Haridwar
HARIDWAR, APR 14 (Agencies)
Published on 15 Apr. 2010 12:41 AM IST
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Seven people, including five women, one man and an infant, died in a stampede on Wednesday morning at Maha Kumbh in Haridwar.
The incident took place as the Sadhus were preparing to start their Peshwai (procession) for the biggest Kumbh Shahi Snan on the occasion of Baisakhi.
According to varied accounts, a Tavera car belonging to a Mahamandaleshwar of the Juna Akhada forced its way on Birla Ghat bridge that was teeming with people at that time. At one spot, it hit a woman along with the infant, killing both on the spot. This led to a skirmish between people and sadhus and a stampede ensued.
The incident took place even as the peak hour rush to bathe had increased before Har Ki Paudi - located 1 km from the spot - was to be closed for Shahi Snan.
In the stampede, a part of the bridge's railing came off, in which at least 6 people fell into the river Ganga. However, five of them were rescued, while one was washed away.
The incident triggered a protest by the Juna Akhada, the largest Akhada that was to lead the Shahi Snan at Har Ki Paudi.
The Snan finally began at 11.30 and went off peacefully with Niranjani Akhada leading the pack of Naga Sadhus for the ceremonial snan.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the bereaved families of those killed.
Earlier, the CM arrived at Har Ki Paudi at 4 am and roamed around quietly overseeing the arrangements.
He told The Times of India that arrangements at Kumbh this time were better than ever before.
He also denied that common public was inconvenienced for accommodating VIPs.
At least nine million pilgrims had taken the bath until 9 am as per the official claims.

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