2022 for a number of families took a tragic start as 12 pilgrims were left dead at India’s famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. In the early hours of Saturday, Jan. 1 a scuffle reportedly led to a stampede. The crush left around 17 people injured and a dozen dead. A probe has been launched to determine how such an incident occurred for the first time at the shrine.

The pilgrimage destination atop Trikuta hills in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Hindu people. Pilgrims undertake a 13-kilometer (8 miles) hike from Katra base to reach the temple. Year-round thousands of pilgrims embark on the journey and offer prayers around the clock at the shrine.

Around 2:15 a.m. local time on New Year Day, crowds near Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan’s gate number three became uncontrolled. Pilgrims in the narrow corridor were involved in a stampede situation. Videos taken by pilgrims showed the crowd swelling while many tried to escape by climbing onto metal pillars.

Times of India reported that the incident led to the deaths of 12 people, all of whom were identified. Around 17 people sustained serious injuries and they remain to recover at local medical centers.

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board soon after the incident released statements regarding the tragic incident. The board claimed that due to Covid restrictions only 35,000 pilgrims were being allowed instead of the regular 50,000 pilgrims per day. They claimed that the stampede was sparked by two groups of pilgrims getting into a scuffle, Zee News reported.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took to Twitter to condole the families of the stampede victim. He announced compensatory amounts to be offered to the families of the dead and injured. He even stated the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, would be looking into the incident.

Sinha launched a probe into the incident. A three-member committee visited the scene of the tragedy as a part of the investigation. The committee was informed by the Shrine board that on the day of the incident around 27,000 pilgrims visited the shrine, NDTV reported. The following day around 15,000 pilgrims visited the temple.

Sinha has urged people to come forward with any information or videos that could help the committee piece together the events leading to the tragedy.

Aside from the compensation offered by the Prime Minister, the state government as well as the shrine board have announced separate compensatory amounts for the families of those dead and injured.

India Family Holy Swim In the River Tho-Ge/ Pixabay

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