A stampede at the 700-year-old Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu early on January 01, possibly triggered by a brawl between some young men, killed 12 people and injured 15, people aware of the matter said.
The incident took place just 300metres from the Holy Cave located in the folds of the three-peaked mountain, at about 2.15 am, said Ramesh Kumar, chief executive officer of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board mandated to maintain the shrine and regulate the pilgrimage to one of the most revered Hindu shrines.
Jammu and Kashmir governor Manoj Sinha ordered an inquiry into the stampede and set up a panel headed by the union territory’s principal secretary home Shaleen Kabra. Additional director general of police Mukesh Singh and Jammu divisional commissioner Raghav Langer will be the other members of the panel.
Prime Minister spoke to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and minister Jitendra Singh to take stock of the situation. “Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
President Ram Nath Kovind said he was very distressed to know about the stampede and offered condolences to the bereaved families. Home minister Amit Shah said he was deeply pained by the tragic accident. Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the tragedy was “heart-wrenching”.