India Temple Well Collapse Kills At Least 36

    India Temple Well Collapse Kills At Least 36
    Last updated Mar 31, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]


    • On Thursday, a floor covering a 40-feet deep stepwell at a temple in central India collapsed, killing at least 36 people and injuring over a dozen more, local officials said as rescue teams continued to search for the missing on Friday.[1]
    • A large crowd of devotees gathered at Indore's Beleshwar Mahadev Temple to celebrate the Hindu festival of Ram Navami when the concrete slab they were standing on collapsed under their weight in the state of Madhya Pradesh.[2]
    • Videos and photos of the rescue operation show a large, gaping hole in the ground under the temple, with devotees being brought out to the surface using ropes and ladders after pumping out the water.[3]
    • The city's municipal authorities reportedly ordered the temple trust to remove the covering in January, terming it unauthorized and unsafe. However, they were told the order hurts "Hindu values" and was "an attempt to fan sentiments of Hindu believers."[4]
    • On Friday, Indore police said that the president and secretary of the temple trust are booked on culpable homicide charges under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code in connection with the floor's collapse.[5]
    • State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of 500K rupees (about $6K) to the families of the deceased and 50K rupees to the injured, while PM Narendra Modi announced an ex gratia of 200K rupees to the victims. An official investigation has also been launched.[6]


    Narrative A

    Questions must be asked of both the temple trust and the Indore civic body. The tragedy could have been averted had the authorities properly acted on complaints filed by residents who alleged that the temple was built on a stepwell in an encroached park last year. Despite likely knowing the structure wasn't secure, officials failed to follow through on any action, and no amount of compensation will bring justice to the victims.

    Narrative B

    Religion shouldn't be used to grab public land for the benefit of a few greedy individuals. The municipal and government bodies — having ordered the structure's removal — must be empowered to prevent unauthorized constructions from being carried out under the garb of religious structures, as political interests and religious sentiments often render authorities helpless.

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