July 20, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Tragic Stampede at Hathras Religious Event Claims 121 Lives


In a tragic incident on Tuesday in Hathras district, India, a crowd crush at a religious gathering for the Hindu guru Bhole Baba resulted in the deaths of at least 121 people, the majority of whom were women. The event saw a massive turnout of 250,000 devotees of Suraj Pal, known as Bhole Baba, who gathered for a satsang, or prayer meeting, in a village in Hathras. Approximately 80,000 attendees were permitted to enter the main venue, a field where the prayer meeting took place.

Many devotees had gathered in a makeshift tent set up on muddy ground for the prayer session. Bhole Baba, a Dalit guru, attracts many followers from the so-called “lower castes,” including a significant number of women and impoverished individuals.

Chaos ensued when Bhole Baba exited the tent to get into his car after the prayer meeting. Devotees surged towards him in an attempt to touch his feet or the ground he walked on, leading to a deadly stampede. According to police reports, many were trampled and suffocated, with some falling into an adjacent muddy field and being crushed.

The tragic event claimed the lives of 121 people, as confirmed by Sandip Kumar Singh Lodhi, Uttar Pradesh’s education minister. More than 80 others were injured and hospitalized, according to senior police officer Shalabh Mathur. The state’s police chief, Prashant Kumar, reported that 112 of the deceased were women, and seven children were also among the dead, as confirmed by UP’s chief secretary, Manoj Kumar Singh.

The crowd crush occurred in a paddy field next to a busy highway in Hathras, approximately 200km southeast of New Delhi. Uttar Pradesh, known for its religious and cultural heritage, has recently seen significant religious events, including the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Experts attribute the stampede to poor event planning and lack of preparedness by the organizers and authorities. Dr. AP Pradeepkumar from the University of Kerala highlighted the inadequate staffing of India’s National Disaster Response Force for managing such situations. Disaster management expert Sanjay Srivastava emphasized the excessive leniency granted to private religious bodies and the lack of multiple exit routes in the makeshift tent.

The authorities have registered a First Information Report against the event organizers and launched a search for Bhole Baba, whose whereabouts are currently unknown. UP’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Hathras to meet the victims’ families, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and support for the injured on social media.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/7/3/what-caused-the-deadly-crowd-crush-in-hathras-india

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