A Division Bench of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma has given a month's time to the Jammu and Kashmir Government to file a response on a Public Interest Litigation regarding the stampede at the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi on January 1, 2022.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL No. 12/2022) filed by advocate Sheikh Shakeel sought directions to the Government of J&K to make public the Inquiry Report of three Members Committee constituted vide Govt. Order No. 01-JK(GAD) of 2022 dated January 1st, 2022 to look into the unfortunate incident of the stampede at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Shrine Bhawan in Katra, on the intervening night of December 31st,2021, and January 1st, 2022, which resulted in the unfortunate death of 12 devotees and several others were injured.
After hearing advocates appearing for the petitioner in the above said PIL and the petitioner-in-person, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal observed and directed in the open court that Additional Advocate General (AAG) Raman Sharma appearing for the UT administration prays that he may be allowed time to seek instructions in the matter.
The DB further observed that in view of the above and as prayed for, a month is allowed to him and if necessary, he may file a comprehensive reply. The DB on the request of advocate Adarsh Sharma appearing for Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Katra also granted him time to file a response, and time was also granted to Deputy Advocate General K.D.S. Kotwal appearing for the Government of J&K to respond in the matter.
12 pilgrims were killed on Jan 1 stampede
12 pilgrims have died and thirteen injured due to a stampede at the Shrine on January 1. That was the first such incident at the Shrine.
At the time of the incident, about 50,000 devotees were gathered on the eve of the new year. It is believed that cause of the stampede was a huge rush of devotees at Bhawan.
Director-General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh had stated that a minor altercation among some young boys led to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in which 12 people lost their lives.
The inquiry panel was constituted after the tragedy
The three-member panel was constituted by the J&K government after the stampede to find a reason for the incident.
The panel was headed by then Principal Secretary (Home) Shaleen Kabra, with the then Divisional Commissioner Jammu Rajiv Langar and Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Singh as its members to probe the incident. The three-member committee had asked the people to provide evidence related to the stampede at gate number three of the Bhawan.