Relatives of a victim who died in a stampede at the Vaishno Devi shrine weep outside a mortuary in Katra on Saturday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
A stampede at a popular Hindu shrine in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 12 people and injured 13 others on New Year’s Day, officials said.
The pilgrimage to the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine resumed on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The stampede occurred when a large number of devotees entered the Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan without permission slips to offer obeisance on the New Year, according to local media.
Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Raghav Langar told media at Katra (Yatra base camp) that the pilgrimage, halted for a brief period after the stampede, resumed at the shrine. He said that an inquiry was ordered to ascertain the reasons behind the incident.
Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha ordered a high-level inquiry into the stampede incident which will be headed by principal secretary home with divisional commissioner Jammu and Additional DGP Jammu as members.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the stampede while the Lt. Governor sanctioned Rs 10 lakh each for the survivors of those killed and Rs 2 lakh each for the injured.
Modi expressed his condolences in a message on Twitter. "Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede,” Modi wrote.
Pilgrims often trek on foot to reach the hilltop temple, which is one of the most visited shrines in northern India.
Deadly stampedes are fairly common during Indian religious festivals, as large crowds, sometimes in the millions, gather in small areas with few safety or crowd control measures.
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