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Oct 14, 2013 at 05:40pm IST

MP: Blame game intensifies as death toll in temple stampede reaches 115

Bhopal: The blame game over the stampede at a temple in Ratangarh in Madhya Pradesh has been intensifying as politicians, authorities and pilgrims speak in different voices. The police said a rumour of the bridge collapsing sparked the stampede while eyewitnesses were blaming it on a police lathicharge. However, politicians have been indulged in another blame game.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said strict against against those who are responsible for the incident. "This is a very shocking and tragic incident. The investigation committee will be formed tomorrow. I will request the team to investigate the incident in two months. We will make sure that strict action is taken against those responsible within 15 days after the investigation is completed."

ALSO SEE MP: Death toll in temple stampede rises to 112, over 100 injured

Congress leader Ajay Maken slammed the BJP government in the state over the stampede. "When the BJP holds a Mahakumbh with its party workers then the Madhya Pradesh government deploys hundreds of policemen. However, there was very little police presence at the Ratangarh temple. The incident indicates the poor governance and the corruption of the Madhya Pradesh government," Maken said.

The Left too hit out at the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. "The Madhya Pradesh government did not learn its lessons from the previous tragedies. Had it learn lessons and taken precautions to not let such tragedies occur again and again," CPI leader D Raja said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also spoke in unison with the other parties and indulged in blaming the state government for the mishap. "Such incidents occur only when the state governments fail to take the necessary precautions," NCP leader Tariq Anwar said.

Meanwhile the Bharatiya Janata (BJP) has come out in the Chief Minister's defence and blamed the Congress of playing politics over the deaths.

"The incident in Madhya Pradesh is a tragic, but worse then that is how the Congress party is playing politics over it. The Congress party is resorting to this tactic because it is unable to challenge us on issues and policies. Parties should be sensitive in the aftermath of such incidents and not play politics over them," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta also hit out at former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh and said that such incidents had taken place in his tenure too. "I do not take Digvijaya Singh's words seriously. He is playing politics. We should not play politics over this. Such incidents also took place when Digvijaya Singh was Chief Minister," Gupta said.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan who will be visiting Datia on Monday, tweeted that politics should not be played over such incidents. "Politics on any tragedy is unwanted. The focus should be on attending to the injured and take steps to avoid any such incidents in the future," Chouhan tweeted.

The death toll in the temple stampede in Ratangarh in Madhya Pradesh has risen to 115 while more than 100 people have been injured. At least 30 of those dead in the tragedy are children.

The stampede took place on the bridge over the Sindh river on Sunday. The police said the rumour of a bridge collapsing sparked the stampede.

"A tractor hit the fence of the bridge which caused panic and a rumour spread that the bridge is about to collapse. This is the initial reason cited, it will be clear after a further investigation," said MP Chief Secretary Antony JC Disa.

Eyewitnesses though have blamed it on a police lathicharge. There were clashes reported between pilgrims and the police after the tragedy, during which one police officer is reported to be injured.

The state government, with the approval of the State Election Commission in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the relatives of those killed in the stampede. The government also announced an assistance of Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 each for those who suffered minor injuries in the mishap.