2011 Sabarimala stampede
|Date||January 14, 2011|
|Location||Pullumedu, Sabarimala, Kerala, India|
The 2011 Sabarimala stampede was a human stampede on 14 January 2011, Makara Jyothi Day at Pullumedu near Sabarimala in Kerala, India. It broke out during an annual pilgrimage, killing 106 pilgrims and injuring about 100 more. The pilgrims were returning from a Hindu shrine on the last day of a yearly festival which attracts millions of devotees. It began after a Jeep toppled over.
It is the worst recorded accident to have occurred in Sabarimala. In the past on 14 January 1952, 66 Ayyappa pilgrims were burnt to death when two fireworks sheds caught fire, while on the same day in 1999, 52 pilgrims were killed following a stampede during their return after witnessing the Makara Jyothi at Pamba.
The two-month-long pilgrimage, which had started in November 2010, had been mostly incident-free before this stampede.
The incident happened around 8 p.m. local time. Most of the dead were from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There are various versions of the accident as reported in various newspapers and television reports. The victims were going back home through the forest after Makara Jyothi darshan, thought to be a celestial phenomenon on the hill shrine of the Hindu god Ayyappan. The stampede was reportedly caused by an SUV which blocked the path, near Pullumedu, possibly after breaking down. When moved it may have overturned and caused people to stumble, triggering the stampede or by too many people running down the hill towards the road where there was already a pack of vehicles. There is a version of an accident between an autorickshaw and a Jeep. The real trigger of the incident remains a mystery given the fact that the spot where the stampede occurred is an open field.
Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan announced a judicial inquiry into the stampede tragedy and also announced a grant of ₹500,000 for families of each of the victims. Prime minister of India Manmohan Singh offered condolences for the deaths and announced a compensation of ₹100,000 to the next of kin of the dead and ₹50,000 for those injured. A team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was sent to the scene. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced ₹1,00,000 to the family of each victim from Tamil Nadu.
Authenticity of Makara Jyoti
Rationalists have for long alleged that the Jyoti is a fire arranged by the temple authorities and government agencies. Amid a renewed debate after this stampede, Kerala High Court wanted to know whether or not the ‘Makarajyothi' is a man-made phenomenon, asking about the authenticity of the hallowed celestial light visible from Sabarimala. The head of the Thazamon Thanthri family, Kantararu Maheswararu clarified that “A distinction has to be made between the Makaravilakku and Makara Jyothi. The Jyothi is a celestial star. Makaravilakku is lit [by people],'.  After this Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) said that it was known to most believers that it was a man lit-fire, but there was a Hindu belief behind it. "It is known to everybody that Makara Jyothi is a fire lit up by men at Ponnabalamedu and TDB also recognises this', TDB President M Rajagoplan Nair told reporters on Jan 31, 2011.
- "Pullumedu stampede toll climbs to 106".
- "Another Black Friday for Sabarimla pilgrims". The Indian Express. 15 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "Breaking News: 104 killed in Sabarimala stampede, 50 injured". The Times of India. 15 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "Kerala govt orders judicial probe into stampede". The Indian Express. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- "சபரிமலை நெரிசலில் 102 பேர் பலி: இறந்த தமிழக பக்தர்கள் குடும்பத்துக்கு தலா ஒரு லட்சம்: முதல்வர்". Dina Mani. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- "Kerala High Court's poser on 'Makarajyothi'". The Hindu (Chennai, India).
- "Sabarimala's Makara Jyothi is man-lit: TDB - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 31 January 2011.