They had come for food and Rs 10, ended up losing their lives

They had come for food and Rs 10, ended up losing their lives

Local residents looking at the left over slippers after a stampede at Kripalu Maharaj's Ashram in Kunda near Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. PTIThe four were among thousands of people-- the poorest of the poor-- who had gathered to eat food at a community kitchen and collect a steel plate, Rs 10, a laddu and a handkerchief,-- distributed by popular godman Kripalu Maharaj at his ashram on the "Shradh" (post-death rites) of his wife every year.

But this year, police claimed, the function saw an unprecedented crowd leading to the stampede.A mound of slippers on the site bore a grim testimony to the tragedy so also the two narrow pathways barricaded by bamboos leading to the ashram.

Eyewitnesses said that there were separate lines for men and women leading to the ashram. But as a gate fell due to pressure from the surging crowd at around 9.30 AM, the ashram officials allegedly started pushing back the crowd. The women panicked and ran with their children in tow, triggering the stampede.

Locals claim that there were no police personnel present during the function. However, Inspector General of Police (Allahabad Range) Chandra Prakash said it was an annual function and that an adequate deployment had been made but the turnout was much more that expected

Police cordoned off the ashram site, 60 kms from here. Unable to get any information about the fate of their loved ones, hapless family members were seen wailing outside the ashram long after the incident-- their hope of seeing their relatives diminishing with every passing moment.

Though the district administration said it had released a list of those killed, people claimed it was not made available to them.

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