An Investigation into Human Stampedes During Festival; Critical Analysis of Madhya Pradesh Stampede
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Published: 10th Nov 2020
“An Investigation into Human Stampedes during festival; Critical Analysis of Madhya Pradesh Stampede. (2013)”
The purpose of this paper is to investigate, how and why the fatalities of the Madhya Pradesh Stampede took place. This paper will critically investigate the crowd management at the time of stampede and the reason behind the crowd behaviour. This paper will examine the mismanagement of the crowd at the time of the stampede, and How the officials act on the crowd during the incident. It will also talk about the crowd density during the stampede and how important it is to understand the evaluation of crowd density before the festival event.
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The paper will talk about risk assessment matrix and evaluation of this incident using FIST which consist the ‘force’ which creates the difficulty of movement and compressive asphyxia (deprivation of oxygen). This paper will be examined about the eyewitnesses of the incident and their views on the management and it will talk about the negligence of the government.
Crowd Density, Crowd Behaviour, Crowd Management, Human Stampede,
This paper will critically investigate the incident occurred on 13th of October in 2013 in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh in central part of India. Where 115 deaths and 110 people were critically injured due to Human stampedes at temple which was in rural area of Datia district.
Experts says true stampede and crushes happen rarely unless until people start run away to escape from fire or any other fear and crushing, by human in such “stampede” situations barely causes fatal injuries. Benedictus (2015) in a similar manner people were crushed because of panic were broke at Ratangarh Temple in Madhya Pradesh on bridge. (Bbc news 2013) Mass gathering events in India or any other part of the world could be hazardous due to Human Stampedes. Illyas et al. (2013). On 13th October 2013, during Navratri festival of Hindu, near the Ratangarh Mata Temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh killed 115 people and 110 were injured due to Human stampede bust on a bridge. This paper will be critically analysing the Human stampedes during religious function and mass gathering emergencies at that time. Illyas et al. (2013) have examined the common cause of Human stampedes and concluded from case studies that an intentional act, or a simple accident or a small rumour can light spark in crowd. In the similar manner in Madhya Pradesh rumour were spread that bridge was about to collapse as result of which people got panicked and start pushing their way off and some of them got drowned due to jumping in the Sindh river because of chaos created.
Anthony J.C. De Sa a state official informed The Hindu, a daily newspaper, that number of people who were there on bridge was about 25,000,which was built on Sindh River and 7 meters wide, stampede happened due to rumour about bridge’s railing broke.(The New York Times,2013) Earlier at the same place (in 2006), 56 pilgrims were died after being washed away by the Sindh River’s water. As a result of which, the state government constructed a bridge over the Sindh. (The Times of India,2013)
- Mismanagement of Crowd
Crowd management should be started in the early phase of an event and its not an operational activity which we can do during an event. Ancliffe (2017) After 2006 catastrophe, the bridge was built on the Sindh river by the state government, but the calamity took place on it purportedly due to poor crowd management that assembled in large numbers. (The Times of India).
The nature of the crowd and sociology of crowd is very important to understand the crowd management, according to the Elias Canetti (1973) noble prize winner there might be five characteristics of a crowd; and in religious festival like this crowd wants to grow and crowd seems to become denser with a moving direction. Tarlow,P (2002).
Stampedes are very frequent during religious festivals and stampedes at Madhya Pradesh during Navratri killed 115 people which was second stampede at the same place within seven years of time more surprisingly these events happened repeatedly in India, but they receive very little attention from disaster planners and scientific community. Frederick M and Edbert (2011)
Frederick M and Edbert (2011) stated that randomly or impromptu mass collection had so far, the highest relative fatality rate assumed to be largely attributable to absent or severely poor crowd-control measures.
A precise way to crowd management could have ward off recent accidents in bigger crowd events. (Martella et. al 2016) bigger religious festival always have the higher chances of human stampede as the number of devotees is not predictable.
Therefore, crowd management of bigger events has become specialised field of research; and we have number of consultancies in this field. (Bowdin,G et al 2006)
- Negligence of Government
Fig. 1. Human stampede fatalities recorded during the period 2000-2012 (Illyas et al. 2013)
From the above table it can be seen human stampede occurrence have influenced characteristics, uncertainty and complexity, a little negligence can cause irreparable loss. All government around the world is focusing how to control and prevent the human stampede large gathering and how to reduce the risk in large scale activities. Illyas et al. (2013) However according to the previous experience 2006 stampede precaution should have been taken by the government to prevent this 2013 stampede.
The pie chart on the left have shown that maximum number of stampedes that occurs, are from religious mass gathering. When we have enough information available from the last stampede than government would have taken any precaution so that this 2013 stampede can be saved. There was no prearrangement for primary medical and drinking water. (The Economic Times 2013)
Fig. Classification of human stampedes disasters in India. (Illyas et al. 2013)
The model which will work to understand the causes of crowd disaster is FIST which means Force Information Space and Time (FIST).
It is difficult to control force which was there in the crowd, mostly when the exit and entrance of the event is from the same place. In the Madhya Pradesh stampede it was an open space but the number of the devotee was huge in amount and there was only one bridge to reach to the temple that’s why when a rumour was spread the crowd got confused in which direction they should move, this situation build an unorganised crowd flow due to crowd confusion.
Information plays a vital role in event as further steps will be taken based on the information available. There was an information of the previous stampede in year 2006 at the same place that was the reason they have built a bridge over the Sindh river, for the devotes as it will be more convenient for them to reach to the temple by bridge. But again, stampede took place due to large number of unexpected devotes in the festive gathering and rumour were spread that bridge was about to collapse.
The key for understanding the space requirement of a crowd depends on how much space is needed for every person. This seems like easy, but it is not, as documents refer to density people per square metre and other refer area per person. All the space for the standing or sitting according to the type of the event. (Still,K.G. 2014)
The role of Time in the crowd management was to determine the maximum number of people in an event at a specific time phase. It depends upon the type of event and their nature. As in relation to the temple stampede in 2013, it was expected the maximum number of devote will be coming in the morning due to the timing of the pray.
UK Cabinet Office (2009) demonstrates that there are various components that form a crowd includes; density, size, novelty, collectivity and time.
In the similar manner all components are combined to develop a crowd at Ratangarh, Madhya Pradesh, more than 5,00,000 people were turned up for the festival. The main worshippers are from Datia, Madhya Pradesh and more than half of the devotees were there on the bridge approximately 25,000 people about 9 am (03:30 GMT) in the morning on Sunday, 13 October 2013, and a section of the fence or railing was broken. Rumour were spread about the collapse of the bridge due to which crowd got panicked and start pushing each other to find their way to a safest place. Some of the pilgrims jumped into the Sindh river on which the bridge was constructed.
- REASON OF STAMPEDE
The exact reason of the stampede was not cleared, the reports were conflicting about the reason of this disaster.
- It was ninth day of the Navratra festival when stampede happened and it was triggered by the rumour about the bridge collapse, which pilgrims were crossing to make their way towards temple. (NDTV 2015)
- According to some eyewitness’s stampede started when police official charged the devotees with their baton, (NEWS 2013) but this allegation was denied by the police.
- Other eyewitnesses said that the pilgrim’s group intentionally spread rumour to cut the line of devotees short, (The New York Times 2013) but again Mr. De Sa uttered that bridge was hardly four years old and it was in a good condition.
- NEGLIGENCE OF POLICE OFFICAL
The Madhya Pradesh government on 15.oct.2013 has suspended 21 government officials, some of them are policemen and it include district magistrate of Datia district, where temple stampede took place. (NDTV 2013)
The main accusation on the policemen was of negligence at the time of stampede.
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj singh chouhan ordered for a judicial commission to investigate into the allegations of police misconduct and corruption.
The police official was there to protect the crowd from the crushing and shoving due to pushing that was happening due to panicked mob but instead of saving them police official starts beating the crowd with baton as a result stampede triggered. (The New York Times 2013)
- CROWD BEHAVIOUR AND CROWD DENSITY.
Berlonghi (1995) analysed that crowd behaviours can be categorised into various types spectator, demonstrator, dense or suffocation crowd, violent and escaping crowd. The gathering of people in this Hindu festival is unpredictable as people were flood in from nearby districts to be the part of this holy gathering. In a relation to this incident according to Berlonghi (1995) we can classify this as a dense or suffocation crowd as at a point was impossible for a people to move or do any sort of physical movement. The bridge space was 400meter (1300ft) long and 7meter(23ft) wide and number of devotes who were there on the bridge was 25,000 which was approx. half of the total number of gathering in the event. Crowd density plays a vital role in understanding the crowd disaster and it reaches to critical state when crowd(standing) space is less than about 1.5 sq. feet and if it is below 2 sq. ft. per person it can occurs psychological pressure and dangerous forces. So safest crowd density is below 5sq. ft. (Phelps 2017). In the Madhya Pradesh stampede 2013 if we critically analysed the crowd density the results are 1.19 sq. ft. per person which is come under category of critical crowd density and crowd disaster can happen as number of people who were on the bridge was 25000 and area of bridge is 1300*23=29,900 sq. ft. so crowd density is 1.196 sq. ft.
Pushing people with FORCE exhibits a pressure on the other person which if exceeds from a certain limit can be a cause of death. It hardly takes 15 secs to die for a person if we apply 6227N force on it. In general, 5 people pushing exerts a 3430N force. Therefore, pushing creates a dangerous crowd pressure which might be lethal for old, child and youngster as well. In the similar manner most of the victims of human stampede in Madhya Pradesh were children and women. (BBC 2013)
When a crowd attempt to escape from a life threating situation or from a seen danger it is called escaping crowd and it include shoving and pushing by panicking crowd. (Berlonghi 1995)
In a relation to Berlonghi crowd type Madhya Pradesh stampede crowd can be considered as an escaping crowd when mob tried to escape themselves from a life threating situation that was bridge collapse and some them jumped in the river Sindh. (The Times of India 2013)
Soon after the stampede took placed the rescue operation were blocked by a 7-km traffic jam which was the only road to the temple and as a result, relatives of the victims started pelting stone on the police officers leaving them wounded. Relief team reached in the afternoon time and incident took place in the morning time at 9:00am (The Hindu 2016)
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The delay in the rescue team happened due to unplanning of the government as they know that during festival season the number of devotes always increased, than they should have installed the emergency ambulance service and more number of police officer to direct the crowd but the three special armed force were sent to the rescue operations by the Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) D. Srenivasa Rao. The Datia Police control room has offered a special helpline number (07522237884) which was there for the victims convenient. (The Hindu 2016)
- COMPENSATION GIVEN
The Madhya Pradesh government after this mournful experience gave the compensation of Rs. 150,000 for every deceased and Rs. 50,000 was given who were seriously injured and 25,000 to each who suffered minor injuries in the incident. (Times of India 2013)
- LEGAL ACTION AGAINTS OFFICALS
The congress party representatives declare that correct death toll was higher, which was nearly touching 400. The representatives of the party criticized that the state administration bluffing with the reports and demanded the resignation of Prithviraj chouhan, but BJP ruling party denied the allegations by the congress party playing politics.
The criminal proceeding begin at the request of the state government, the Election commission of India, suspended the District collector Mr. Sanket bhondwe, (SP) Superintendent of police, Mr. P. Chandrashekhar Solanki, Sub-divisional magistrate, Revenue (SDM) of Seondha Mr. Mahip Tejaswi, (SDOP) Sub Divisional officer of police of seondha Mr. B.N Basave and all the staff of the seondha Police station. (NDTV 2013)
- EMERGENCY RESPONSE
It is essential to have an effective emergency plan which we can use at the time of mishap. Poor initial communication was seen with the emergency response time not only in 2013 temple stampede but in Miyun country bridge disaster in China, Akashi firework event in Japan. Soomaroo,L. and Murray,V (2012)
examined the medical care in crowd gathering suggest that Basic aid should be provided with in 4 min, Life support assistance should be provided and last evacuation from an incident point to safe point should take 30min. Sanders et. al. (1986)
Implementation of the correct plan during the stampede can help response team to act promptly and correctly. Even after evaluating the previous stampede at the same place incident like this could not stop as number of people in these gathering is always unpredictable and implementation of the rescue plan plays a major role. A recommendation to people participating in these festival to check the fire exit and entry-exit point of the event.
To conclude the mishap which happened on 13.oct.2019 at Datia district, Madhya Pradesh. The bridge which was built on the river Sindh was jam packed during the incident, the crowd management and risk analysis was not done despite previous stampede. It always seems like we learn a lesson from every incident, so as a recommendation a better management and proper arrangement for the festival will take place. Preplanning of large gathering is a key, which should include major incident planning and health management. As a recommendation emergency medical services should introduce in every large gathering with experience staff. It is always advisable to contact with the local hospital before event so that it will provide aid in emergency response. To ensure crowd safety planning, crowd management should be introduced in the preplanning phase not in an operational phase. Lastly, I would like to sum up that incidents like this should be easily avoid if we have adequate planning and management in pre planning phase of the event.
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[Accessed at 19.jan.2017]
- NDTV ‘Madhya Pradesh Horror: Men in uniform snatched jewellery, threw children off bridge, claim survivors’ NDTV 15.oct.2013 [online] Available at: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/madhya-pradesh-horror-men-in-uniform-snatched-jewelry-threw-children-off-bridge-claim-survivors-537760 [Accessed at 13.oct.2013]
- The Hindu ’91 dies as rumours spark stampede in MP temple’ The Hindu 28.may.2016[online]
Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/91-die-as-rumours-spark-stampede-in-mp-temple/article5231189.ece?homepage=true [Accessed at 28.may.2016]
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