Patna: Witnesses and survivors of the October 3 stampede in Gandhi Maidan here on Tuesday laid the blame on eve teasing, administrative callousness, broken cattle guard and rumours for the tragedy which claimed 33 lives and left many others injured.
"Some youths were teasing women and girls near the entrance of southern gate of Gandhi Maidan. This unnerved women. They fell down and stampede started," said Jyoti Kumari, a resident of Daldali Road who had gone to watch the Ravan Vadh with her family.
Jyoti said she also fell down and several other women toppled over her. Her one-year-old daughter slipped out of her arms and went missing. Her mother-in-law suffered injuries.
"I somehow managed to stand up and started looking for my daughter. It took an hour to locate her in the dim light. Some good Samaritan had lifted her and placed her on the footpath," Jyoti told reporters after getting her statement recorded at the open enquiry.
Altogether 51 people deposed at the open hearing conducted by Home Secretary Amir Subhani and Additional Director General (Police Headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey at the district collectorate here.
Subhani said the statements of the eyewitnesses were video recorded and put in writing as well.
The hearing will be continued tomorrow after which the versions given by the people would be studied and a report would be submitted to the state government, he said.
Amit Priyadarshi, a teacher living in West Lohanipur, had gone to watch the ceremony with his wife and son. They all fell down when people started pushing and shoving.
"Some teenagers and youths were forcibly trying to enter the venue while the crowd was coming out. I don't know why they were doing so. It was dark and there was no policemen. We escaped with minor injuries," Priyadarshi said.
However, many were not as lucky as Jyoti or Amit. Pramo Kumar Gupta, a shopkeeper of Salimpur Ahra in Patna, lost his mother Gayatri Gupta (65) and sister-in-law Ranjana Gupta (35) in the stampede. He somehow rescued himself and his nephew.
"The exit gate was open, but it was dark there. The traffic coming from three directions there had not been halted and the whole security apparatus was engaged in VIP movement. People's legs got entangled in the cattle guard rods and the ditch beneath. They fell down resulting in the stampede," said Pramod with tears rolling down his face.
Pramod said he blamed the administration in his deposition. "They are mass murderers. Just transferring them is no justice. They should be given strict punishment."
Middle-aged Asha Devi of Kankarbagh had come to the open hearing with injuries in her arms, shoulders and back. She and six others had gone to Gandhi Maidan. They got caught in the stampede and four of them were injured.
"There was neither light, nor police. People ahead of us fell down, we stumbled on them and fell down too. It is a miracle that we survived," Asha Devi told reporters.
Similarly, Anita Pandey whose family members suffered injuries in the incident blamed it on rumours about electric wire falling on the people for the stampede.
ADG Gupteshwar Pandey said the probe team would prepare its report after all the statements are recorded. The statements of the then District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma and SSP Manu Maharaj would also be recorded later on, he said.