On whose authority were gates operated, Somayajulu Commission asks
Counsel for the State government on Tuesday submitted before the Justice Somayajulu Commission, which was constituted to inquire into the death of 27 pilgrims in a stampede at Pushkar ghat on the first day of Godavari Pushkarams on July 14, 2015, that no government agency or authority could be held responsible for it.
Government counsel Prabhakar concluded his arguments and also submitted documentary evidence.
Justice Somayajulu and his legal assistant Madduri Siva Subba Rao put searching questions to Mr. Prabhakar.
The government counsel said a large number of pilgrims, including three to four train-loads of passengers, converged on the ghat to take a holy dip at the same time and this led to overcrowding.
The crowd started breaking barriers and surged towards exit gates also. Gate No.1 was closed for a brief period to control the situation. The Commission sought to know on whose authority the gates were opened and closed. Mr. Prabhakar clarified that the district administration had printed a manual on crowd management, but it was not specified as to who had to take a decision on the operation of the gates.
He said he had no information about the number of people deployed at the gates at the time.
Deponent Muppalla Subba Rao pointed out there was no CCTV camera footage record with 72 hours back-up by the district administration. There was no water facility for pilgrims passing through queue lines.
The Commission posted the next hearing for Wednesday.