Wowowee & the Temple Stampede in Northern India


I rushed to the spot in search of my three children who had gone to pay obeisance at the hilltop shrine…I fail to understand why God was so cruel to us,” said Jawahar Khurana. AP/ ABS-CBNNews (08/04/08.)

There’s an uncanny similarity of the Wowowee incident in Manila on February 4, 2006 and the stampede in the foothills of Himalayas on Aug 3, 2008. A least a hundred forty five (145) people died in Northern India after rumors of a landslide stirred worshippers to mad agitation. (Photo Credit: AP/Sharma,S.) Wowowee’s death toll reached 71. The panicked crowd attending a religious festival pushed and ran, trampling people as they rushed out of the mountaintop Hindu temple. Wowowee’s crowd jostled frantically for a crazy reason— to get the best spot to watch a TV extravaganza.

To date, the victims’ families are still stuck in a legal tussle with ABS-CBN Corporation on who are responsible. Those who lost loved-ones see who are accountable even if the courts still debate on the matter. Perhaps, the families of the Indian pilgrims feel this way too when there’s too much pain and blame to spread around.

In Wowowee, poor people were lured by a promise of winning a prize in a TV spectacle which neglected the dangers of massing huge crowds in a contracted arena. The promoters of the show at ABS-CBN were responsible. Yet the popular TV show continued its repertoire of entertainment and laughter like nothing happened, as if no lives were lost. Lack of money to wage legal battles and a dearth of defenders had sealed the victims’ fate. To my knowledge, nobody had been punished. There was no one to avenge the deaths of the innocents and the poor. =0=

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