The Gandhi Maidan stampede at Patna on the eve of Dussehra is an avoidable tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Based on inputs of public spirited friends in Patna and newspaper reports, I managed to gather some facts about it.
Whatever facts I have managed to gather, there isn't any huge cultural or genetic reasons but simple administrative lapses which has caused the fiasco at Gandhi Maidan.
1. Raising of perimeter barricade of Gandhi Maidan to a large height. When I was a student, it used to be low enough height for kids like me to jump over it. For god's sake, it is a public park and not a VIP enclosure or a jail.
2. Keeping most of the gates closed for exit and using only two gates for public use. I can't say if other 4-5 gates were kept for VIP or simply kept closed. Entry can be restricted for security reasons, but exit?
3. Lack of lighting near Exhibition Road exit. Also, lack of PA system.
4. Poor maintenance of electric pole due to which one collapsed. That led to rumours of a bomb blast.
5. Lack of surveillance cameras: Surveillance is a must. Surveillance cameras are not very expensive & easy to operate. As my friend Ajay Maitin pointed out, Bihar police is well versed in use of surveillance cameras and uses it effectively for Bihar Divas and other functions.
6. Lathi charge : Police did a lathi charge at Exhibition Road exit (Southern exit or Ramghoolam exit) which made the matter worse. This needs to be thoroughly probed.
Let us hope and pray for improved bandobast in future.
T. V. Sinha, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com