Hathras Stampede: Death Toll Rises To 121, Investigation Points To Crowded Conditions And Organizational Failures

Hathras Stampede: Death Toll Rises To 121, Investigation Points To Crowded Conditions And Organizational Failures

The stampede occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Hathras, located 345 kilometers southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered from distant areas to attend the religious event led by preacher Bhole Baba.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 08:54 PM IST
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Hathras Stampede Horror | X

Hathras: The death toll from the devastating stampede during a religious congregation in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has climbed to 121, with five more individuals succumbing to their injuries on Wednesday morning, according to government officials.

Manish Chaudhry, a government official, confirmed the additional deaths and noted that 28 injured individuals remain hospitalized, with six in serious condition. "The majority of the injured were released after their condition stabilized," he said.

The stampede occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Hathras, located 345 kilometers southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered from distant areas to attend the religious event led by preacher Bhole Baba.

Multiple theories have emerged about the cause of the stampede. One account suggests that volunteers stopped people from leaving the venue to allow Bhole Baba and his retinue to exit first. An eyewitness reported that outside the venue, the road is elevated with a drain below, causing people to fall into the drain and be crushed in the chaos.

Inspector General of Police (Aligarh Range) Shalabh Mathur stated that one version of events claims followers were stopped from leaving the venue after the congregation to allow Bhole Baba's convoy to depart first. This delay, combined with hot and humid conditions, led to suffocation and triggered the stampede.

The police FIR indicates that once the stampede began at the main gate, attendees ran towards a nearby farm area, where wet soil from recent rains caused many to fall and be trampled.

SDM Submits Investigation Report

The SDM of Sikandrarao has submitted his investigation report on the Hathras accident to the DM of Hathras. The report states that over 200,000 devotees were in the pandal during the Satsang. After the Satsang ended, the crowd surged forward to have a darshan of Narayan Sakar Hari (Bhole Baba) and touch his feet.

When the devotees rushed towards his vehicle, Bhole Baba and his personal security personnel (Black Commandos) and sevadars began pushing and shoving the crowd. This caused some people to fall. The crowd then moved towards the open field in front of the event venue, where people slipped and fell due to the slope while descending from the road to the field.

Unable to get back up, the fallen were trampled as the crowd scattered. Many women, men, and children were killed or seriously injured. The injured were immediately transported to nearby hospitals and community health centers by police security personnel using ambulances and other available means.

Preparations for the Satsang had been ongoing for 15 days, organized by Sri Jagar Guru Baba. The police FIR states that a volunteer named Dev Prakash Madhukar obtained permission for an 80,000-person gathering, but over 250,000 people attended. The large number of vehicles, including buses, bikes, and auto-rickshaws, parked along a three-kilometer stretch of the national highway, caused a road blockade.

Experts Criticize Safety Norm Violations:

Experts have criticized the organizers for violating safety norms. "The makeshift tent lacked adequate exit routes. Generally, there should be 8-10 well-marked exits leading to open areas," said Sanjay Srivastava, an expert in disaster management. "In Hathras, the small exit route resulted in a melee. In the hurry to leave the hall, people tumbled over each other, leading to this tragedy," he told this reporter.

The tragedy has sparked widespread outrage and calls for accountability, as the state government pledges to take strict action against those responsible for the mishap.

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