Pushkaram stampede: Naidu gets clean chit
The Commission of Inquiry into the Godavari pushkaram stampede, in its report submitted to the government, has virtually given a clean chit to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and his government. The Commission headed by Justice C. Y. Somayajulu concluded that the Chief Minister was not present in the area where the tragedy occurred in which 29 devotees had died.
In what could be termed as a relief to Mr. Naidu, the report that was tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday by the Labour Minister Pithani Satyanarayana also observed that the State government had made proper arrangements for the event.
The stampede at the Pushkar ghat in Rajamahendravaram on July 14, 2014 snowballed into a political issue compelling the government to constitute the Commission.
The Opposition parties criticised that the government had failed to take adequate measures and arrangements. There was also criticism that the stampede took place due to the presence of the Chief Minister.
The Commission, however, noted that none of the clippings produced before it showed the presence of the Chief Minister. The stampede could have occurred due to overcrowding of pilgrims near the ghat. Undue and unwarranted publicity about the time at which the event was going to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister might be a cause for the huge congregation hoping to take a dip there after the Chief Minister finished his.
Even while stating that the State government had started “high decibel media campaign” for the event, it observed that “the media which became an important instrument of publicity and promotion of products and personalities brought its own share of misery and inconvenience to the public at large...” Media, swamijis, almanac writers and scholars promoted superstitions that holy dip during early hours was the best time. Consequently, a large number of people waited on the banks for the muhurtam. The people could not foresee the impending danger due to their blind belief, Justice Somayajulu said in his report.
Stating that the parties [political] not in power or not friendly or at loggerheads with the ruling party seize any opportunity or event, calamity or untoward incident to blame the party in power, the Commission noted that all the persons who gave affidavits before it did not appear to be actual eyewitness.
Source: The Hindu