Sonia, Gadkari express shock at Sabarimala tragedy
New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari on Saturday expressed shock and anguish at the loss of lives in the stampede near the shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala.
Gandhi, in a statement, expressed her grief at the tragedy.
Gadkari also issued a statement expressing shock and dismay at the loss of lives in the accident near Sabarimala shrine and the resultant stampede.
Conveying his condolences to the bereaved families, Gadkari appealed to the Kerala government to provide all necessary medical assistance to the injured and hoped that evacuation operations will be undertaken on a war footing.
He also urged the state government to provide ex-gratia relief to the families of the victims.
The BJP president hoped that the state government will make requisite security arrangements at the shrine to facilitate devotees.
He urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call a meeting of chief ministers of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to devise an institutional mechanism to ensure safety and well-being of the pilgrims visiting religious shrines in these states.
Gadkari also called upon Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to provide relief and rescue assistance to Kerala.
The toll in the stampede near Kerala`s famed Sabarimala temple climbed to 104 Saturday with more bodies being brought to hospitals. More than 60 people are injured.
The stampede occurred around 8.00 p.m. Friday when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple.
A report by the state forest department says a tiff between autorickshaw, taxi drivers and pilgrims turned violent, leading to the stampede.
The tragedy took place in Pulumedu, a forested area about 10 km from the Vandiperiyar town.