Imperishable Stampede Tragedies
What causes these recurring deaths by suffocation and trampling in Indian religious places? Is it because we Indians have high tolerance for crowded spaces? Or is it because the Indian administrators don’t have an idea about ‘crowd management’? On October 2013, 115 people died during a stampede near the Ratangarh Temple in Madhya Pradesh during the Navaratri festivities. Now this year, 32 innocent lives were sacrificed in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan, where the celebrations for Dussehra were being held. These are not just two isolated incidents. Ever since the 1954 Kumbh Mela stampede, on the banks of the River Ganges (500 were killed), the stampedes in India have become casual events.
Press Trust of India’s report in 2011 said that in a decade over 1,000 Indian people are losing their lives by being crushed underfoot during temple stampedes. Of course stampedes are not the gruesome thing that does not discriminate between the First World and Third World. If religious gatherings are claiming lives here, football and rock concerts are killing lives somewhere else. The common is the frenzy they awake within the people. However, in India, these perpetual dangers at religious gatherings are not addressed properly. The possibility of a death might be a last thing on the pilgrim’s mind.
We Indians feel nothing dangerous about a crowd. Until the conditions become very packed the crowd just moves on in. But, when panic kicks in along with some deadly rumors then things change for the worse. At that point, everything goes beyond and the authorities wait for the chaos to end. The Medias have plunged us into the age of short attention span, where these tragedies are reported in a non-humanized way. The 32 or 145 or 500 people just become another statistic in the annual stampede death toll.
It is said that in the Patna stampede most of the senior officers and authorities left the Gandhi Maidan immediately after the exit of Chief Minister’s convoy. The absence of senior officers only shows how these officials chucked their responsibilities to ensure the safe exit of common people. Rumors and absence of crowd management people is a prevalent situation in all the religious gathering stampedes. The lazy creatures of government, however, would have reacted in a different manner has it been a ruling party’s political gathering, because in those money-grubbing rallies, the entire state-machinery is put into work.
India is surely on track to become a global power, but if we perpetually refuse or fail to learn lessons from these gruesome incidents, there is no pride in flaunting the words ‘global power’.