Mayawati orders probe into stampede deaths

"The probe will be carried out by the divisional commissioner of Allahabad, who has been asked to submit a preliminary report within 24 hours," Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh said at a press conference here.

He confirmed the deaths of 35 children and 26 women and said 64 people were injured at the ashram of Kripaluji Maharaj near Kunda town, about 180 km from here."Of the injured, 36 had been discharged after first aid while the rest were hospitalised." Two of the seriously injured were undergoing treatment at the Allahabad Medical College.

A decision on compensation to the victims and next of kin of those killed would be taken only after the preliminary inquiry, Singh said.

Mayawati, he added, had rushed two of her ministers, Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Swami Prasad Maurya, to the spot to supervise the relief operations. According to him, the stampede "occurred on account of the rush of overflowing crowds at the narrow ashram gate that gave way under the physical pressure of too many people".

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