Seven people, including four women, were killed and 12 others injured in a stampede at the Sri Karuppanaswamy temple at Muthayampalayam near Thuraiyur on Sunday.
The tragedy occurred when devotees in large numbers turned up at the private temple for receiving ‘pidi kasu’ (coins) given as part of the Chithra Pournami festival by the shrine’s fortune teller M.D. Dhanapalsamy who runs it.
Situated on a sprawling site adjoining a village road, the temple has been attracting devotees from various districts for the annual event being held for over a decade now. Notwithstanding the deployment of police and fire and rescue service personnel at the temple and its vicinity, the stampede took place around 8.45 a.m. at the entrance when devotees arrived in droves to receive the coins.
Devotees believe that the coins received from the temple will bring them wealth and happiness. Tiruchi Collector S. Sivarasu, who inspected the spot, said a rumour that the coins would get over triggered a commotion and a chaotic situation.
While a large number of devotees were waiting at the entrance where wooden barricades had been erected, those on the road rushed towards it. The sudden rush led to a stampede resulting in the deaths, the Collector said.
“The tragedy occurred when there was a huge rush at the entrance,” said M. Ganesan of Nelliampalayam village. “Things got worse and I fell down on the ground and many stamped on me and others,” said K. Periyasamy, 33, a devotee from Cuddalore district. He was undergoing treatment at the Thuraiyur Government Hospital.
In their bid to get away from the spot, devotees tried to push others, leading to further confusion, said locals. A fleet of ambulances was immediately pressed into service to rush the injured to the hospital. The event was stopped following the stampede.
Police gave the names of the deceased as R. Lakshmikanthan,60, K. Rajavel, 55, S. Kandhayee, 38, A. Shanthi, 50, Ramar,50, V. Poongavanam,50 and R. Valli 35. Nine women and a 15-year-old boy were among the 12 injured persons.
Inspector General of Police (central zone) V. Varatharaju and Superintendent of Police Ziaul Haque inspected the temple. The Thuraiyur police arrested Dhanapalsamy and booked a case against him under IPC 304 (II) (Act done with knowledge that is likely to cause death but without any intention to cause death or to cause bodily injury).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami experessed their condolences over the stampede deaths. Mr. Modi announced a solatium of ₹2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the families of the deceased. He also approved a financial assistance of ₹50,000 to those injured in the incident.
Mr. Modi tweeted: “Saddened by the loss of lives due to the stampede at a temple in Thuraiyur, Trichy. My condolences to the families of those who passed away and prayers with the injured. All possible help is being extended by the authorities.”
Mr. Palaniswami announced a solatium of ₹1 lakh to the families of the deceased and an assistance of ₹50,000 for those injured.
The dead were from Cuddalore, Karur Namakkal, Perambalur, Salem and Villupuram districts.