Reason behind stampede unclear

After the stampede in the Malabar Hills neighbourhood of Mumbai, where thousands of members of the Dawoodi Bohra community gathered late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning to pay their last respects to spiritual leader Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, different versions of causes for the incident began to surface.

One version was that the large turnout was not anticipated, despite text messages having been sent to thousands of people of the community.

Another version is that the sudden closing of the gate of the spiritual leader's residence led to some people falling, while others tried to turn back in a crowd that was moving, swaying and heaving forward. The wailing sounds are said to have drowned cries of help from the people trapped in crowd.

According to some eyewitnesses who also walked with the cortege later in the day, there was total chaos. They said policemen just stood quiet and watched the stampede.

There were no ambulances or first aid. The mourners reportedly had to fish out the bodies and the injured people on their own. Distraught relatives were seen in and around Saifee Hospital, calling up their loved ones to tell them about the disaster.

According to a source who belongs to the three-lakh-strong Dawoodi Bohra community, thousands of people started coming in on Friday morning from nearby towns. More flew in from nearby countries.

He claimed the police were aware of the massive gathering that was likely to take place given the status of the departed leader. He alleged the police and local authorities were trying to wash their hands off the incident.

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