The recent MP stampede is a clear case of administrative failure. The police seems to have been taken by surprise by the sheer numbers of devotees on the bridge. Only 60 police personnel were deployed to police a footfall estimated to have crossed 150,000 over several days. A floating rumor of the bridge’s impending collapse, and the presence of tractors, seems to have triggered panic among the crowd. Several people have fallen off the bridge intentionally in order to rescue themselves by swimming in the Sindh river underneath.
To make matters worse, the district collector (who now stands suspended) was on leave that day which has delayed decision-making at crucial moments. The election code of conduct, which entails the state government to seek EC’s clearance, also came in the way of announcing critical relief measures in time.
Post-tragedy, some actions have borne fruits. The police seems to have done a decent job transferring the dead and the injured to the government hospital in Datia district (situated in the remote and backward Jhansi region on MP-UP border). The hospital fortunately had doctors at that time on a Sunday. The tragedy occurred at 9am, and the doctors had post-mortemed about a 100 bodies by that evening. CM took clearance from EC to visit the site to personally monitor rescue and relief. Other ministers and politicians were barred from visiting due to EC code which seems to have in fact helped rescue operations.
Irony: The same place was witness to another tragedy 7 years back. At that time, the river-crossing bridge did not exist. The pilgrims on boat were drowned in the Sindh river due to excess water from the reservoir. As ironical as it sounds, the bridge was built by MP government as a response to that tragedy of drowning.
The following articles list out the failure of the administration at various levels, and the lessons for crowd control at such mass gatherings.