Several devotees, including women and children, were injured today following a stampede at Ujjain’s famous Mahakaleshwar Siva Temple. The crowd turned uncontrollable after visits by some VIPs, including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, affected the smooth flow of devotees.
The incident took place at gate number four of the temple. After much jostling and pushing, the security cordon gave way and people simply rushed in. Several tumbled down and others fell over them.
A video of the incident shows even policemen being overpowered while some devotees also engaged in physical violence.
The Mahakaleshwar temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of lord Siva. It reopened last month, but only for those who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine or with a negative RT-PCR test report issued 48 hours prior to the visit.
Up to 3,500 devotees are permitted to enter the premise between 6 am and 8 pm. There are seven time slots of two hours each, with 500 people allowed in each slot.
Today, however, VIPs like Uma Bharti and Mr Chouhan, too, chose to visit the temple, along with their families. This made it all the worse for the devotees and the administration, temple officials said.
Ujjain District Collector Ashish Singh said today was an exception and that normalcy would return from next Monday.
“We will sit hand plan for next Monday. Covid protocol cannot be followed in the kind of free-for-all we had today. There were also too many people in one go. We will revise the plan. We will ensure social distancing,” Mr Singh said.