Eighteen people were killed and 40 others injured when members of the Dawoodi Bohra community gathered outside the residence of late community leader Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin to pay their last respects to him here on Saturday.
The incident happened early in the morning after news of the demise of the 102-year-old leader spread like wildfire drawing huge crowds to Saifee Mahal at Malabar Hill. The tragedy was accentuated by the narrow by-lanes of Malabar Hill and lack of police presence for crowd management.
According to sources in the Mumbai Police, there was a delay in the community members informing the police and moreover the gates of Saifee Mahal, where the body of Syedna Burhanuddin lay, was closed resulting in the tragedy. Over 40 people were hospitalised following the stampede. Authorities said the deaths were due to suffocation.
However, even the police were at fault as the news of Syedna’s death was everywhere. Moreover, thousands thronged Malabar Hill for several hours since 9 pm on Friday. Saifee Mahal is in the vicinity of the CM’s bungalow Varsha and bungalows of other ministers as well. Crowds in such large numbers in a VIP area without the police becoming aware indicates their level of preparedness. Mumbai Police commissioner Satyapal Singh admitted even the police had not anticipated such huge crowds. He added that poor crowd management led to the tragedy. “As it was an emotional occasion use of force for crowd control was not advisable,” said Satyapal Singh.
Meanwhile, the funeral procession of Syedna started from his residence at Malabar Hill at 10 am and it was only in the afternoon that it reached the mausoleum at Bhendi Bazaar where he was laid to rest. The cremation was held was with full state honours.