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Hathras killer stampede: Single entry and exit for 2.5 lakh crowd

An official complaint has been lodged by the police against the organizers of the 'prayer meet' and Suraj Pal Singh, a close associate of the 'godman' who anointed himself as Narayan Saakar Hari, also known as Bhole Baba.

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Annesha Barua -- July 03rd 2024 07:15 PM
Hathras killer stampede: Single entry and exit for 2.5 lakh crowd

Hathras killer stampede: Single entry and exit for 2.5 lakh crowd

PTC News Desk: Following the 121 fatal stampede at a'religious' event in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday night, serious inquiries are being made about which government agency or official approved such a sizable gathering and why there were no crowd control measures in place, like marked entrances and exits.

An official complaint has been lodged by the police against the organizers of the 'prayer meet' and Suraj Pal Singh, a close associate of the 'godman' who anointed himself as Narayan Saakar Hari, also known as Bhole Baba.

Hari, who has avoided the police thus far, is not mentioned in the case.In response to a question from reporters about whether Hari will be arrested, State Police Chief Prashant Kumar said, "Action will be taken based on facts arising during the investigation."

Despite guarantees from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointing to the stampede during a speech in Parliament, no arrests have been made as of yet.

The Chief Minister stated that the organisers of the event conspired to "cover up the incident" this evening.

Along with wrongful restraint, which is applied when an accused person "voluntarily obstructs any person so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction which that person has a right to proceed," the aide and organizers are charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In addition to the deceased, more than twenty-one remain hospitalised. 

Hathras Stampede Tragedy Lapses

An estimated 80,000 people were expected, according to the organizers and authorities. 

On the day, however, the estimated turnout was more than two lakh persons.According to police, the organizers purposefully misrepresented the number of attendees at the conference, presumably so they could arrange it with less constraints and avoid taking extra precautions for crowd safety—in any case, it doesn't seem those were guaranteed.

This emphasises one of the main queries that are currently being raised: who granted authorization for this open gathering? In addition, why were there only seventy-odd police officers present?

Even if the police had planned according to the 80,000 guests that the organisers had provided, that still comes to one police officer for every 1,150 participants, which is a pitiful ratio.

It's probable that the crowd got out of control following the meeting because there weren't enough police officers present. A huge rush occurred in the small built-up area as some people hurried to the exit while others rushed to gather the mud that Hari had trodden on.

"... the crowd, running in water and mud-filled fields behind the car, was stopped by the organising committee with sticks, due to which pressure of the crowd kept increasing and women, children, and men kept getting crushed," according to the complaint submitted by the police.

IANS, a news agency, reports that this is not the first time that Hari, also known as Bhole Baba, has staged a "prayer meet" and misled police about the number of attendees. In May 2022, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he requested permission to have a rally in the Farrukhabad area for 50 people, but ended up entertaining almost 50,000.

According to the police, entry and departure points were not properly marked, and there were neither medical stations nor ambulances at the location as required by law.

When the stampede broke out, the confusion was exacerbated by the lack of designated evacuation routes and emergency exits.

Officials have also charged the organisers with failing to assist in controlling both foot and vehicle traffic at the location and, most importantly, with deleting or concealing evidence following the stampede.

Furthermore, Hari's disciples were living in tents without any ventilation.

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Yogi, PM Respond, Opposition Attacks

The Chief Minister has offered Rs 50,000 to the injured and Rs 2 lakh to the relatives of those slain in the tragedy, as well as establishing a high-level commission to investigate the incident.

Right now, the Chief Minister is in Hathras. "Our government will investigate this incident and punish the conspirators and those who are accountable." The government is looking into... "We'll investigate whether it was an accident or a plot," Mr. Adityanath remarked.

While in the midst of a ferocious attack on the opposition in Parliament on Wednesday evening, hours after the news of the stampede broke, Mr. Modi broke off to alert the House.

"I express condolences to those who lost their lives... hope for speedy recovery of injured."

The BJP, which controls both the state and the federal government, has been under heavy fire from the opposition. Leader of the Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav demanded a "thorough probe" into the incident and accused the BJP of neglecting to protect the lives of inhabitants of Uttar Pradesh.

Also Read: Opposition MPs walk out of Rajya Sabha amid sloganeering, PM claims they 'cannot face truth'

Who Is Bhole Baba?

Suraj Pal, the self-proclaimed guru, was born in Bahadur Nagari hamlet in the Etah region of Uttar Pradesh, to Nanne Lal, a farmer, and Katori Devi. He worked for the state police as a Head Constable.

In 1999, he quit his job and went by Narayan Saakar Hari. Since then, he has stated that he became spiritual while working for the Intelligence Bureau after graduating from college.

Also Read: Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar calls opposition walkout a dangerous precedent

- With inputs from agencies

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