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Twelve pilgrims die in stampede at Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu

The unusually large crowds at the Vaishno Devi Bhawan on New Year's Eve led to the stampede. Although the international new year has no religious sanctity. The toll may go up as several of the injured are in a critical condition. The stampede occurred at Vaishno Devi Bhawan at gate number three of the temple premises. The shrine itself is situated far inside the premises.

JAMMU, Jan 1: Twelve pilgrims were killed and 13 injured in a stampede at Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu in the wee hours of Saturday. The mishap occurred at the Vaishno Devi Bhawan at gate number three of the temple premises. The sanctum sanctorum is situated quite far inside the premises.

Sources said a large number of devotees had come in view of the New Year's Eve to pray although it is the beginning of an international financial year having no religious sanctity in India.

The crush of crowds at the Vaishno Devi Bhawan led to the stampede. However, reports said the mishap followed a scuffle between two groups of pilgrims in the middle of the thronging crowds.

The injured have been admitted to Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Hospital nearby. Several of them are in serious condition. The deceased have not been identified. The incident occurred around 2:45 am on Saturday.

The pilgrimage, which was stopped after the stampede, has resumed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the families of the victims and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. "Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan," said Modi in a condolence message to the bereaved families.

Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor announced Rs 10 lakh each for the victims' kin. He said that a high-level inquiry has been ordered into the stampede.

The temple is located atop the Trikuta Hills in the Reasi district of Jammu. A million devotees visit the temple a year. The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board manages the affairs of the temple.

Helpline Numbers: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board: 01991-234804 01991-234053 PCR Katra: 01991232010/ 9419145182

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