Four Devotees Die After Darshan of Lord Athivaradar at Kancheepuram Temple in Chennai
Making a statement in the assembly after the DMK raised the issue of deaths and sought proper safety measures for the devotees, K Palaniswami said the deceased included two women and three of the devotees were aged over 50.
Kancheepuram temple in Chennai (Image: Twitter)
Kancheepuram/Chennai: July 18 (PTI) Four devotees who visited a temple in Kancheepuram for darshan of Lord Athivararadar, a deity taken out from under the water once in 40 years, died Thursday due to "pre-existing" health conditions, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said.
The Devarajaswamy temple in Kancheepuram, about 70 km from Chennai, has been witnessing heavy rush of devotees ever since the darshan of the deity's idol made of fig wood, called "athi' in Tamil began, on July 1 after it was taken out from the temple tank on June 27.
Making a statement in the assembly after the DMK raised the issue of deaths and sought proper safety measures for the devotees, Palaniswami said the deceased included two women and three of the devotees were aged over 50.
He announced a solatium of Rs one lakh to the kin of the four and also to a 21-year old man from Andhra Pradesh, who died on July 3 after falling down from the steps in the shrine after completing darshan.
The 48-day "Athivaradar festival" has been drawing huge crowds, including women and senior citizens, since the first day. President Ram Nath Kovind offered prayers to the deity on July 12.
A top police official ruled out a "stampede like situation" but agreed that there was a huge crowd Thursday. Sources said the victims could not put up with the exhaustion and fatigue since they had to exert themselves for hours together.
There have been complaints from public about 'lack' of proper arrangements for the devotees who have to wait for long hours to have darshan.
Palaniswami said over 1.7 lakh devotees had darshan of Athivaradar Thursday since it was considered an auspicious day and the district and temple administration did not expect such a huge crowd to turn up to offer prayers.
Citing a statement by the district administration advising against the visit of elderly and those with illness in view of the teeming devotees, the Chief Minister maintained authorities have, however, taken all precautionary measures.
The victims died due to pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure, he added.
Narayani, a 55-year old woman, and 61-year old Natarajan both belonging to Chennai died while returning after dharshan. They were rushed to a medical camp run by the government but both did not respond to treatment and died, Palaniswami said.
While the woman had a history of high blood pressure and diabetes, the man had been taking treatment for BP and other heart diseases, the Chief Minister said.
The other victim was a 61-year old woman hailing from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh who also had a history of hypertension and died without responding to treatment. A 47-year old man belonging to Salem, who had a complaint of epilepsy suffered from an attack and he was rushed to nearby Chengelpet Government Hospital but he too died, Palaniswami said.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin of DMK referred to chaotic conditions witnessed in the temple due to huge crowds thronging for darshan and said as many as 31 people fainted Thursday due to suffocation and had been hospitalised.
He urged the government to provide adequate safety to devotees and solatium to the family of victims. "The crowd is set to surge..devotees are expected not only from within Tamil Nadu but also from neighbouring states and overseas as well," he said.
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