Saturday, February 25, 2012

200-year-old procession of naga sadhus called off.

TNN Feb 21, 2012, 05.20AM IST
Six Persons Died And 30 Hurt In Junagadh Stampede
AHMEDABAD: For the first time in over two centuries, the procession of naga bawas (naked sadhus) that marks the celebration of Shivratri in Mount Girnar was called off on Monday after six persons died in a stampede on the outskirts of Junagadh late on Sunday night.
Pankaj Trivedi, Junagadh superintendent of police, said akhadas in the area have voluntarily decided to call off the procession, which is taken out just before the midnight bath in Damodar Kund. He said that the bath which is inside the temple will take place but it would be a private affair.
The procession ends with a bath in the kund and offering of prayers, marking the end of the five-day Shivratri fair.
The cancellation of the procession has resulted in large number of people leaving Junagadh. The administration has also banned entry of private vehicles and buses in Bhavnath area.
At least 30 persons were injured in the stampede. Of these, only nine were in hospital and the remaining were discharged on Monday.
The stampede that occurred at Pang Nala, an S-shaped drain with a fall of about 75 metres to 100 metres on both sides, was a result of the technical snag in the state transport buses that came face to face. On Sunday at about 6 pm, two state transport buses - one heading for Bhavnath and another towards Junagadh city - came face to face and stopped. Sources said the boundary wall of the bridge on one side gave in because of the chaos, hurtling many people down, resulting in deaths and injuries to the devotees.
Maha Mandleshwar Vishwambhar Bharti of Shree Pant Dasnan Juna Akhada said, "The fund of Rs five crore have already been sanctioned for the widening of the nullah and even having it straightened instead of the curve. But, the project is hanging fire due to internal politics in the district administration."
Meanwhile, the state government has ordered a high-level inquiry headed by additional chief secretary Varun Maria into the incident. The state government and the Junagadh Municipal Corporation have also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 lakh each to the family of the deceased and Rs 25,000 to the injured.
"Barring 108 services and government vehicles, no four-wheelers are allowed near Damodar Kund and Bhavnath," said Trivedi.
The popular fair, which concludes on Shivratri midnight, is an annual affair attended by at least 10 lakh people.

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