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No Stampede at Gangasagar, PMO's Tweet Against Federal Structure: WB Minister

A TV grab of volunteers helping conduct rescue operations after 6 people died in a stampede at Gangasagar Fair in Kolkata. (Courtesy: CNN-News18)

Kolkata: Claiming some pilgrims at Gangasagar died due to natural causes and not in a stampede, a West Bengal minister on Monday said the PMO coming up with a tweet in this regard without confirming with the state government is “against the federal structure of the country”.

“It is against the decorum and established protocol in the federal structure that the PMO tweeted about the death of pilgrims without confirming with the state administration that whether any stampede had really taken place,” state Fire and Environment minister Sovan Chattopadhyay told reporters in Kolkata.

“The PMO should have confirmed with the state government before coming up with any statement,” he said.
Chattopadhyay, who is also the Mayor of Kolkata, said five ministers including him were ensuring proper facilities like food, shelter and transport for around 16 lakh pilgrims who took the holy dip at Sagar Island at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal.

At least six pilgrims died while returning from Gangasagar fair on Sunday, which the officials initially said was a stampede, but the state government later claimed it was not.

According to a state minister, six elderly women died after falling ill while rushing to board a vessel to cross the Muri Ganga river to reach the mainland in South 24 Parganas district.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last evening tweeted: “Saddened by the loss of lives caused by a stampede in West Bengal. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased (sic).”

The PMO had tweeted: “PM approved ex-gratia from PMNRF of Rs 2 lakh for next of kin of those deceased & Rs 50,000 for those injured in the stampede in WB (sic).”