Mumbai: Eighteen people were killed, most of them due to suffocation, and 40 injured in a stampede when thousands of people gathered to pay last respects to the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Malabar Hill area here in the wee hours today.
The incident occurred when huge crowds started gathering in the area to pay last respects to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who died yesterday at the age of 102, civic officials said.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said most of the deaths occurred due to suffocation as the lanes in the area were very narrow and a huge crowd had gathered.
“People from all parts of Mumbai and around the city came to pay their last respects around 9 last night. The roads were narrow…It led to suffocation. It was difficult for the people to breathe.
“Some people fell unconscious. Gates were closed following which some people fell on each other. As the doctors are claiming, cause of the death was suffocation,” he said.
After learning of Syedna’s death, his followers had started thronging his house, which is in the vicinity of the official residence of the Maharashtra Chief Minister, and soon a stampede broke out.
The injured have been admitted to the Saifee Hospital.
Meanwhile, the funeral procession of Syedna began from his Malabar Hill residence amid tight security arrangements.
The procession, which moved at a snail pace commenced around 10 AM from Saifee Mahal, where community members converged in huge numbers for the final journey of the leader, who will be laid to rest at Raudat Tahera mausoleum here at Bhendi Bazar later in the day.
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin led the Namaz-e-Janaza of the late Syedna.
As scores kept joining the procession every minute, to get a last glimpse of the spiritual head while it proceeded through Walkeshwar Road in South Mumbai, the route was closed for traffic to allow easy passage.
Thousands of people from all walks of life joined hands to form a human chain across the Road and bid a tearful adieu to the departed leader, who passed away after a cardiac arrest here yesterday.
The body of the departed leader was placed in a flower-adorned casket draped with the national flag atop a open vehicle, escorted by policemen, immediate family and community heads.
Dawoodi Bohra is a sect of Shia Muslims spread all over the world. One of the key principles of the sect is “patriotism as part of the faith.”
The 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq of the worldwide Dawoodi Bohra community, the leader was the eldest son of Syedna Taher Saifuddin. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1965.
He was credited with transforming Dawoodi Bohras into a vibrant community and honoured with highest civilian titles like the Star of Jordan and Order of the Nile by the respective governments of Jordan and Egypt.
Syedna was conferred Honorary Doctorates for his efforts in social and educational development by renowned institutes like Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Aligarh Muslim University and University of Karachi.