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12 dead and 14 injured in a stampede in Vaishno Devi shrine, PM expresses grief, announces ex-gratia for kins of deceased

"The incident occurred around 2:45 am, and as per initial reports, an argument broke out which resulted in people pushing each other, followed by a stampede,” confirmed JK police chief Dilbag Singh.

On the first day of the new year, a stampede occurred at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir in which twelve pilgrims were killed and over a dozen others were injured. Officials reported on Saturday that the accident was caused by a massive surge of devotees who came to the temple to pay their respects to mark the beginning of the New Year. The incident occurred outside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine on Trikuta hills in Jammu and Kashmir. The yatra to the holy shrine was suspended briefly after the unfortunate incident but resumed after the situation was under control.

ANI quoted Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh as saying: “The incident occurred around 2:45 am, and as per initial reports, an argument broke out which resulted in people pushing each other, followed by a stampede.”

The Additional Director General of Police, Mukesh Singh, confirmed that 12 pilgrims died in the stampede and at least 14 others were injured. He said, “All of the injured have been taken to a hospital.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his condolences for the demise of 12 people in a stampede at the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. He also expressed condolences to the bereaved families.

“Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to JK LG Shri @manojsinha_ Ji, Ministers Shri @DrJitendraSingh Ji, @nityanandraibjp Ji and took stock of the situation,” PM Modi Twitted.

According to a minister in his office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “personally observing and keeping track” of the unfortunate incident.

He has announced that the families of those killed in the mishap would receive Rs 2 lakh in ex-gratia from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Families of those who were injured would receive Rs 50,000.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha also took to Twitter to express grief at the unfortunate incident. Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. My condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured,” the Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha said in a tweet from his official account. He added that he spoke with Prime Minister Modu and “briefed him about the incident.”

The Governor’s office also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of those killed in the stampede and Rs 2 lakh to those injured. The Shrine board to bear the cost of treatment of injured, added the JandK Governor.

Soon after the stampede was reported, the Jammu and Kashmir Police initiated a rescue operation. The injured have been rushed to Naraina Hospital. Some are said to be critical.

The Jammu and Kashmir cave shrine is located at a height of 5,200 feet in the Reasi area and receives nearly a million visitors each year. The pilgrimage site is run by the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

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