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Patna stampede's bitter aftermath: Nitish government faces tough questions

CNN-IBN
Nov 20, 2012 at 10:37pm IST

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Patna: In the Patna Chhath Puja tragedy, fingers are now being pointed officials responsible for building the make shift bamboo bridge along river. Year after year, the people responsible for the arrangements have gotten away with last minute arrangements.

The cries of the family members are heart-rending. Bablu lost his wife and two children at the stampede in Patna's Adalat Ghat on Monday evening. The stampede, triggered by the collapse of a makeshift bridge has claimed one life. For years, the administration has got away with last-minute arrangements at the ghats during the Chhath Puja. Since the Ganga shifted its course, temporary bridges are built to help devotees reach the main bank - since the shallow stretch of dirty water is unfit for Chhath rituals.

As one of this bridges crumbled, the crowd gushed towards the only bridge left for exit from the ghat - getting trapped in a narrow lane resulting in the bloody stampede. The government has to answer several questions including was any quality check done on the makeshift bridges built before the Chhath festival? Why can't the government keep permanent arrangements in place as the Chhath is Bihar's most important yearly festival? How did the administration allow the movement of such a huge crowd through a lane that is narrow as six feet? Why weren't adequate numbers of policemen deputed to manage the crowd?

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, "A team has been formed to know the reason behind this tragedy." Ordering a high level enquiry is the convenient response. But will the Nitish government own up and assign responsibility for the tragedy where it is due?

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