Uttar Pradesh: Stampede at Hathras 'Satsang' Claims 121 Lives

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Uttar Pradesh: Stampede at Hathras ‘Satsang’ Claims 121 Lives

| Updated: July 3, 2024 12:45

A stampede during a ‘Satsang‘ in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras led to the death of 121 people on Tuesday. At a government hospital, blocks of ice preserved the bodies of the victims as their relatives waited outside to reclaim the mortal remains of their loved ones. The victims were among the thousands who had gathered near Phulrai village in the Sikandrarau area for the ‘Satsang‘ led by religious preacher Bhole Baba.

The incident occurred around 3:30 pm. Eyewitnesses reported that as Bhole Baba was leaving, a rush ensued among the devotees eager to touch his feet. The crowd became uncontrollable and many slipped and fell over each other due to the boggy ground caused by water overflowing from a nearby drain.

Overcrowding and Chaos

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar Singh reported to the media that the stampede was partly due to overcrowding. The event organizers had estimated an attendance of 80,000 in their application, but the actual number swelled to nearly 2.5 lakh. As the ‘Satsang‘ concluded, devotees surged towards Baba Narayan Hari’s vehicle, resulting in the fatal stampede.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar told the media that the police were searching for the godman.

Government Response

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Hathras and vowed to thoroughly investigate the incident. He stated, “Our government will get to the bottom of this incident and give appropriate punishment to the conspirators and those responsible. The state government is investigating this entire incident. We will see whether it is an accident or a conspiracy.”

A government statement announced that a team consisting of ADG Agra and Aligarh Divisional Commissioner had been formed to investigate the cause of the incident, with a report due within 24 hours. Ministers Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, Asim Arun and Sandeep Singh were dispatched to the site immediately after the tragedy.

National Mourning and Aid

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed profound sorrow over the incident and announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured. He also confirmed that senior officials from the central government were in constant contact with the Uttar Pradesh administration to coordinate aid efforts.

Helpline numbers were released for those seeking information about their loved ones:

  • Agra Zone Control: 7839866849
  • Aligarh Range Control: 7839855724
  • Agra Range Control: 7839855724
  • Hathras Control: 9454417377
  • Etah Control: 9454417438
  • Aligarh Control: 7007459568

A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the organizers of the ‘Satsang‘, citing overcrowding and security lapses. Advocate Gaurav Dwivedi filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Allahabad High Court, demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident. The FIR details the specific sections under which the case has been filed.

The stampede took place during a congregation led by Baba Narayan Hari, also known as Saakar Vishwa Hari ‘Bhole Baba’, a former policeman who turned to religious preaching two decades ago. Bhole Baba, whose real name is Surajpal, is a native of Bahadur Nagar in Kasganj district. A retired IPS officer informed the media that Surajpal travels with his wife for ‘Satsangs‘ as he has no children.

Eyewitness Accounts

Survivors and eyewitnesses shared their harrowing experiences with local media, expressing gratitude for their survival and criticizing the insufficient police presence and the chaos exacerbated by the heat.

International Condolences

German, Chinese and French envoys expressed their condolences to the victims’ families and wished for a speedy recovery for the injured. In separate posts on social media platform X, they extended their sympathies and mourned the loss of lives in the Hathras stampede.

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