This refers to your report “24 pilgrims killed, over 60 injured in Varanasi stampede”. It clearly shows that proper arrangements were not made for such a big congregation at the Jai Gurudev samagam. This is not the first time that a stampede has taken place in Varanasi. Similar tragedies have occured in the past and the authorities seem to have reached a dead end in finding a lasting solution. The number of pilgrims is growing every year but there are no corresponding facilities or arrangements. Through better planning and organisation, stampedes can be prevented in future. Community education on the dos and don’ts while participating in festivals will help avert such ghastly tragedies. Do we need to tell our administrators that elementary precautions are necessary on such occasions? The least a pilgrim would expect are basic amenities and safety arrangements. State authorities across the country should learn a lesson or two from the Varanasi stampede and ensure that such incidents do not recur. Lack of education is partly the reason why so many fatalities occur. In general, the crowd management techniques we adopt are primitive and lack imagination and innovation. It is the foremost duty of the government, shrine boards and the public in general to take effective remedial measures and timely steps to prevent the occurrence of such mishaps in future.
Vinod C. Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)