A three-member high-level probe has been ordered by the government in the stampede that took place at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan in Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra that claimed the lives of 12 people and left 15 others injured early on Saturday morning. As per J&K DGP Dilbag Singh’s statement to the press, a “minor altercation” among young boys led to the unfortunate incident.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who has been monitoring the situation on the ground, has said that technical solutions will be considered to aid crowd management and prevent such mishaps in the future. “We may add some technical solutions for the yatra,” said the Union Minister.
The shrine receives millions of devotees throughout the year. Besides the Navratri period, the first day of a year witnesses unusually heavy footfall as devotees flock to seek the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi for the new year. On Jan 1, 2018, the pilgrimage was briefly suspended due to tourist overflow. Jitendra Singh, while speaking to the media, said, “Earlier people use to visit the shrine during festivals, nowadays youngsters want to visit the shrine on 1st day of the year.” However, it is still unclear how many pilgrims were visiting the shrine on the intervening night of Dec 31, 2021, and Jan 1, 2022.
The Jammu & Kashmir administration had increased the maximum limit of pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine from 7,000 to 15,000 per day in November 2020. The limit was earlier capped at 5,000 people per day in view of the coronavirus pandemic.