On Monday, a large crowd gathered at the Mahakaleshwar temple, as it was the first Monday of the Hindu month of Shravan. A large number of devotees visited the temple to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. The heavy crowd gathered at the temple was not following the necessary COVID-19 protocols. They were neither maintaining distance nor wearing masks.
A large number of people tried to forcefully enter the temple and in the process, they broke the barricades of the gate. After the barricade broke, several people tried to rush towards the temple. Soon after, many of the devotees lost their balance and others fell on them.
This led to stampede-like-situation in Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar temple. The circumstances at the temple were adverse because of the large crowd. The security officials were unable to control the crowd due to a visit by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and BJP leader Uma Bharti. The stampede-like situation caused many injuries, including women and children.
The temple was closed due to an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases during the second wave of the pandemic. It reopened last month, but only those who had at least one dose of vaccine against Coronavirus or had negative RT-PCR test report issued before 48 hours were allowed to visit the temple. As per the rules, 3,500 people were permitted to enter the temple between 6 am to 8 pm and 500 people were allowed to enter the premises in two hours.
District Collector Ashish Singh assured that the situation would be normal from next Monday. He said that the COVID-19 protocol cannot be followed the way it happened on Monday. This was an exception but they are going to revise their plan from the coming Monday and ensure social distancing, Singh further added.
The temple’s assistant administrator Moolchand Joonwal said that it was the first Monday of the holy month of Shravan. Therefore, they allowed people to stand in queues to visit the temple apart from pre-booking. However, the crowd turned up in larger numbers than they had expected. At around 8:30 am, a large number of people tried to enter the temple. The devotees broke the barricades and they were rushing towards the main deity, fortunately, the adverse incident did not happen, said the temple’s assistant administrator Moolchand Joonwal.
The video of the Mahakaleshwar temple’s crowd went viral on social media. In the video, devotees at gate number four of the temple were indulging in physical violence, pushing each other and several tumbled down. The security officials trying to control the situation were overpowered by devotees. People spectated the stampede-like situation at the temple and said, social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols were violated as a large number of people gathered outside the temple.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is the temple of Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve most celebrated Jyotirlingams in India. It is considered that Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is the most sacred home of Lord Shiva. It is located in Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The temple is situated about 175 km from the state capital Bhopal and is situated on the banks of the holy river Shipra.
The temple Officials said visits by VIPs like Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharti with their families added to the chaos. Their visit made the situation worse for the devotees and the administration.
Even after grave warnings that the third wave of coronavirus may hit India in mid-August, people continue to break COVID-19 protocols and potentially endangering the lives of thousands of others.