Bhopal: The toll in a horrific stampede at a Durga temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Datia yesterday rose to 111, including 47 women and 33 children. The state government, which ordered a judicial probe, suspended four top district officials after the poll panel’s nod.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (revenue) Mahip Tejaswi, who announced the toll, said search operations were continuing in the Sindh river in which a number of trapped people had jumped in a bid to escape the crushing throng.
The temple at Ratangarh is located in a forested part of Datia district, 390km north of the state capital and 55km from Datia town.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who visited the spot and the hospital where the injured were admitted, asserted that the guilty will be punished at the earliest.
“A judicial inquiry will be done... It will be completed in two months. Once the report comes, within 15 days, the guilty will be punished,” he told journalists. He said the commission will be appointed by today.
“Since the judicial inquiry report will take time to come, depending on the feedback, administrative responsibility will be fixed. We will seek the Election Commission’s permission so that we can take action against those found guilty,” he said.
The state government later suspended District Magistrate Sanket Bhondwe, Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Solanki, Tejaswi and Sub-Divisional Police Officer B N Basawe after taking permission from the election commission — mandatory since the model code of conduct is in place ahead of assembly elections on November 25.
The stampede at the Ratangarh temple on the last day of the Navratras was sparked off by a rumour that the bridge to it had collapsed and police’s use of force to control the crowd. Women and children were trampled in the stampede while many people jumped into the river.