A stampede at the Mahakaleshwar Siva Temple in Ujjain on the first Monday of the Hindu month of Shravan resulted in the injury of various devotees, including women and children, reported NDTV. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former Chief Minister Uma Bharti were among the attendees for the special ritual in the Temple.
Nearly 3500 devotees were granted permission to visit the Mahakaleshwar Siva Temple on Monday, July 26, as the day marked the first Monday of the Hindu month of Shravan, deemed auspicious by various devotees. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva.
Reportedly, the attendance of VIPs such as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BJP leader Uma Bharti resulted in the crowd turning uncontrollable by security personnel. The incident, which took place around 8:30 am, included the crowds trying to enter for darshan and in the process began to push, which ultimately overpowered security and resulted in a stampede-like situation, with devotees tumbling and falling over one another.
The temple's assistant administrator Moolchand Joonwal told the Hindustan Times that: "Due to it being the first Monday of the holy month of Shravan, people were allowed to stand in queues for darshan apart from pre-booking. However, the crowd that turned up was much larger than what we expected."
"After the barricade broke, several people tried to run towards the main deity but thankfully there was no untoward incident," added Joonwal.
3500 people were allowed to enter the temple between 6 am and 8 pm in intervals, with 500 people allowed to enter every two hours. Earlier, following the temple's reopening the previous month, only visitors that produce a negative RT-PCR test result no older than 48 hours or a vaccine certificate for at least one dose of vaccine were allowed to enter the premises.
Ujjain District Collector Ashish Singh said in a report that: "Covid protocol cannot be followed in the kind of free-for-all we had today. This was an exception but we will revise the plan for next Monday and ensure social distancing."
Videos of the incident, which took place at gate number 4 of the temple, showed devotees closely packed and in violation of various Covid-19 protocols, such as social distancing and wearing masks.