BHOPAL: Holding the Shivraj Singh Chauhan-led BJP government responsible for the Ratangarh temple stampede that killed 115 people in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader and Union Minister of State for Power Jyotiraditya Scindia said that more people had died in the stampede and accused the government of hiding the actual death toll.
Speaking at a poll rally in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya said: 'The death toll figure of 115 for the Ratangarh tragedy which the state government is giving is totally fake. I have been to Ratangarh and found that between 300 and 400 people have died there.'
Earlier in the day, the Madhya Pradesh government suspended the Datia Collector and three other top officials over the alleged lapses in connection with the Ratangarh Temple stampede.
About 150,000 pilgrims had gathered at the temple in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday to celebrate the end of the Hindu holy festival of Navratri.
Devotees thronging towards the temple across a long, concrete bridge panicked when some railings broke, triggering the stampede, Dilip Arya, a deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters.
Many victims were crushed by the crowd while others drowned when they fell or jumped into the fast-flowing Sindh river, swollen by heavy rain.
Most of the dead were women and children.
On Monday, the Congress Monday demanded the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
"The Madhya Pradesh government needs to take responsibility for this. The chief minister needs to resign," Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
Maken accused the government of being unprepared for the crowds that throng the Ratangarh Durga temple in Datia district.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, who is from Madhya Pradesh, also hit out at the state government for the Sunday tragedy at the shrine.
"The Madhya Pradesh government ... failed. I hold it squarely responsible (for the deaths)," he told reporters.
"No leaders are being allowed to go there and talk to people because there is more to hide," he added.
The Ratangarh temple was built by Hindu warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji after defeating the Muslim Mughals, who ruled most of India for 600 years.
There was a stampede on the same 400-metre (440-yard) bridge in 2006 and 50 pilgrims were swept away to their deaths after they jumped into the river to escape the crush.