Patna: Bihar government ordered a probe by State Home Secretary in yesterday's stampede incident here at Gandhi Maidan, which left 32 dead and 29 injured after Dussehra celebrations, reports stated on Saturday.
The toll in the stampede incident after the burning of the Ravana effigy at the Gandhi Maidan here rose to 33 today after the death of a child, an official said.
Under attack from opposition, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today said, “There would be a high level inquiry and culprits would be punished.”
However, Manjhi strongly refuted the label of being a "dummy CM" and said such incidents happen in other states also.
"Such incidents happen in other states too," Manjhi told reporters.
Citing eyewitnesses accounts about reasons for stampede due to rumour spreading, which he described as part of a "conspiracy", Manjhi contended truth will come out in the probe.
Asked that opposition mocking him as a "dummy" CM, Manjhi shot back the opposition tirade against him was due to his humble background as a schedule caste.
Manjhi also referred to eyewitness reports of snapping of a live wire following a loud explosion and uprooted pipe of the ditch below the gate that led towards Ramgoolam Chowk.
"There must be some reason for the tragedy. Different people whom I talked about the incident are giving different versions. Truth would come out in the probe," he said.
"This (opposition allegation against me) comes out of their 'sanskar' (tradition) which berates merit of a dalit...But they are wrong in assessing talent of an SC," he said.
A day after the deadly stampede, the angry residents today clashed with police, shouted slogans against the government and blocked main roads here, reports said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has condoled the loss of lives in the stampede at Patna's Gandhi Maidan and wished for speedy recovery of those injured.
Manjhi apprised the Home Minister of the latest developments in a telephonic conversation today.
The Home Minister assured Manjhi of all assistance from the Centre, including the medical help, and asked him to provide better medical treatment to those injured.
Dussehra celebrations at the Gandhi Maidan are the biggest in Patna and at least 50,000 people turn up every year to watch the burning of gigantic effigies.
The event is held jointly by the district administration and a private organiser. The Chief Minister was also present at the ground for the celebrations.
Thirty-two people, including women and children, had died in the stampede yesterday evening.
Bihar police said 29 people are seriously injured and undergoing treatment at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) here.
Additional Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey said that he, along with Principal Home Secretary Amir Shubani, visited the spot to inquire into the cause of the stampede.
"We have formally began an inquiry into the cause of the stampede that resulted in deaths of so many people, mostly women and children," Pandey told reporters.
Pandey said police have been scanning the CCTV footage also.
Water Resources Minister Vijay Choudhary said the state government would take action against officials if they are found guilty. "Action would be initiated after the inquiry," he said.
In view of the incident, Urban Development Minister Samrat Choudhary has cancelled his England visit.
According to district officials, rumours that a live high tension wire had fallen to the ground led to the stampede.
However, Patna District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma and Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj at a joint press meet here today ruled out administrative lapses.
"Most of the people died due to suffocation and breathlessness during stampede," Verma said.
Both claimed that four gates of Gandhi Maidan were opened and there was adequate arrangement.