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What killed the 6 pilgrims at Ganga Sagar? State says heart attack, PMO tweets stampede

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 17 January 2017, 15:19 IST

Six pilgrims headed for the Ganga Sagar mela died on Sunday afternoon at the Kachuberia ferry ghat, Sagar Island. They were was initially believed to be causalities of a stampede, but the state government and police have already ruled out that possibility, raising a lot of questions about the actual cause of death.

No fresh cases of death were reported from the Ganga Sagar Mela being held in the South 24 Parganas, on Monday.

Leaving stamped out as a potential cause, the minister in charge of Sunderban Affairs Development, Manturam Pakhira, said that the deaths on Sunday were caused due to heart attacks.

Sources in the Sagar hospital said that it was difficult to comment anything on the matter as till now no post mortems have been conducted. The family members of the deceased have also not asked for a post-mortem.

It may be mentioned that Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has already declared compensation for the victims who died in the mela, and tweeted -

The PMO's office, as it can be seen from the tweets, have said that the deaths were due to a stampede.


These tweets have created quite a controversy between the state and Centre, with the state demanding to know how the PMO can post on social media without checking with the state for 'proper information'.

A local eye witness, Sunita Rai (40), who went to Sagar Island said that the pilgrims died due to some diseases. According to Rai, the pilgrims were waiting in queue to board the boats and some of them became restless. As hundreds were waiting in queue, a stampede like situation might have taken place .

Mayor of Kolkata, Sovan Chatterjee, has claimed that the pilgrims at Ganga Sagar died due to natural causes and not in a stampede, and also added that the PMO posting a tweet in this regard without confirmation from the state government was "against the federal structure of the country".

"It is against the decorum and established protocol in the federal structure that the PMO tweeted about the death of pilgrims without confirming with the state administration that whether any stampede had really taken place at all," Chatterjee said.

On Sunday, six women died, and five others were injured while returning from Ganga Sagar Mela. The incident happened after hundreds of devotees tried to get on board a boat at Kachuberia's 5 Number jetty to cross the Muriganga River.

There was considerable chaos with pilgrims pushing and shoving each other as they waited for vessels in the long queues at the ghat. Nine were said to be fallen ill while they were waiting in queue and they were taken to a nearby hospital where six of them were declared brought dead.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

First published: 17 January 2017, 15:19 IST