Patna: The Bihar government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the tragic deaths of 17 people during a stampede at the Adalat Ganj ghat in Patna that occurred as people thronged the place to celebrate the Chhath festival on Monday. Eyewitnesses had claimed that there was no assistance from the administration even as the situation slowly spiralled out control.
The stampede took place after a bamboo bridge collapsed as the devotees rushed to the site, forcing them into a narrow lane. Eyewitnesses said that they tried to call the police "many times but we received no response from their end".
Meanwhile, sensing opportunity, the Opposition has slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for negligence. "It's the government's fault. I have been saying for three days now that proper arrangements have not been made. I've been saying an accident could take place and it has happened," said Ram Kirpal Yadav.
Ex-chief minister Lalu Prasad too blamed the administration for the incident.
The CM, meanwhile, on Monday appealed for calm. Calling it an unfortunate incident, he announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those killed in the stampede.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also condoled the death of the devotees.
People in large numbers hold Chhath puja at river banks and the festival is celebrated across Bihar. Chhath, celebrated six days after Diwali, is a time for worship of the Sun god.
During the festival, devotees observe a fast for 36 hours and devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the Sun. The festival began on Saturday, and will end on Tuesday.