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Overcrowding one reason behind Hathras stampede: UP chief secretary

After the 'satsang' on Tuesday, devotees were running after the vehicle of Baba Narayan Hari, also known as Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba, who had organised the event, while others bent down to collect soil from the venue and fell, Singh said.
Last Updated : 02 July 2024, 20:47 IST

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Hathras (UP): Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar Singh on Tuesday said overcrowding was one of the reasons behind the stampede at a religious congregation in Phulrai village here which claimed at least 116 lives.

After the 'satsang' on Tuesday, devotees were running after the vehicle of Baba Narayan Hari, also known as Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba, who had organised the event, while others bent down to collect soil from the venue and fell, Singh said.

The chief secretary visited the stampede site with Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Prashant Kumar.

"This incident is very sad and heart-wrenching. The chief minister is monitoring each and every development. Our first priority is to ensure that the injured get proper treatment," Singh told reporters.

Later, speaking to PTI, the chief secretary said, "Overcrowding is one of the reasons (behind the stampede). There was a race among people who were running after his (Bhole Baba's) vehicle. It has also been learnt that people collect soil from there (the path where the baba walked) and worship it. As a result, people started bending down and fell." Singh said the application submitted by the event organisers seeking permission to hold the 'satsang' put the number of attendees at 80,000 but the actual number was much higher.

There has been a lapse on the part of the event organisers, he said.

Most of those killed in the stampede were women.

The 116 people who lost their lives included seven children and one man. The rest were women, Singh said.

He said 72 deceased have been identified and their bodies will be handed over to their families.

Police personnel were deployed in significant numbers for the programme. Efforts will be made to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future, he added.

DGP Kumar told reporters that the permission for the 'satsang' was given by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and it is being investigated if the organisers complied with all conditions.

"An FIR is being registered and action will be taken against all culprits. As far as (the possibility of any) administrative lapses is concerned, it will be thoroughly investigated by the ADG (Agra Zone) and divisional commissioner (of Aligarh). The government will take action based on their report that will come in 24 hours," he said.

Asked if Bhole Baba will be arrested, the DGP said the ambit of the investigation is open.

"Right now, everything is a matter of investigation. We do not want to influence the investigation by drawing any immediate conclusion. The ambit of the investigation is open. Action will be taken based on the facts that come to light during the investigation," he said.

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Published 02 July 2024, 20:47 IST

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