‘Rush of devotees cut off NH-91 for 5 km’

Godman’s security pushed crowd trying to collect mud after Bhole Baba left the venue which led to stampede, say eyewitnesses
The stampede site at Phulrai village in Hathras on Wednesday, a day after more than 121 people lost their lives during a religious congregation; Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the site; Heavy police presence at the area; Relatives look for belongings of the vicims.
The stampede site at Phulrai village in Hathras on Wednesday, a day after more than 121 people lost their lives during a religious congregation; Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the site; Heavy police presence at the area; Relatives look for belongings of the vicims.Photo | Parveen Negi

HATHRAS: Chaos caused after followers of Narayan Sakaar Hari (Bhole Baba) were pushed by the godman’s security and a slippery slope resulted in the stampede at a satsang event at Phulrai village in UP’s Hathras district on Tuesday which killed 121 people, eyewitnesses and preliminary government report said.

“By the time I arrived at the site at around 6 pm, I could see dozens of bodies piled up on both sides of the highway,” said Manu Singh, a resident of the nearby Iqbalpur village.

Locals say that the crowd was so large that the National Highway-91, near which the event took place, was completely closed for 5 km on both sides and occupied, with buses carrying devotees from far-off places. As a result, they say, ambulances took roughly an hour to reach the spot after the stampede, forcing people to arrange for private vehicles to reach nearby hospitals.

Locals put the blame for the tragedy squarely on the sewadars of Bhole Baba who were organising the event. “They should have accounted for the large crowd and made preparations accordingly. It is the poor people who are suffering here,” said Kalicharan Yadav, a resident of Phulrai village where the incident took place.

Shanti Devi, a survivor, described how “after Babaji left, people followed him and tried to pick up the mud from his footsteps. The rush led to people falling on top of each other.”

The stampede site at Phulrai village in Hathras on Wednesday, a day after more than 121 people lost their lives during a religious congregation; Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the site; Heavy police presence at the area; Relatives look for belongings of the vicims.
Overcrowding, Bhole Baba's bodyguards blamed in FIR as Hathras stampede toll rises to 121

In a preliminary report submitted to the district magistrate, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Sikandra Rao, who was present at the venue, noted how a crowd of over 200,000 gathered at the satsang pandal. “A crowd of more than 2 lakh people was present in the satsang pandal. Shri Narayan Sakar Hari (Bhole Baba) reached the satsang pandal at about 12.30 pm and the program went on for 1 hour.

After this, at about 1.40 pm, Shri Narayan Sakaar Hari (Bhole Baba) came out of the pandal to go towards Etah on National Highway-91,” the preliminary report said, adding that when the godman was leaving the venue, his followers started running towards him for a ‘darshan’ and collect soil from around his feet.

The stampede site at Phulrai village in Hathras on Wednesday, a day after more than 121 people lost their lives during a religious congregation; Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the site; Heavy police presence at the area; Relatives look for belongings of the vicims.
Hathras stampede: Self-styled godman Bhole Baba continues to elude police net

The situation escalated when more people on the road divider surged towards Baba’s vehicle. “A large number of people were already standing on the dividers...who started jumping from the dividers and started running towards Baba’s vehicle,” the report stated.

Efforts by Baba’s security and sevadars to control the crowd led to pushing and shoving, causing some to fall. Panic ensued, and the crowd became uncontrollable. Many fled to an open field, slipping on the wet slope and falling, leading to a deadly crush as others trampled over them.

“After this, they could not get up again and the crowd started running here and there over them,” the report noted.

The stampede site at Phulrai village in Hathras on Wednesday, a day after more than 121 people lost their lives during a religious congregation; Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath during his visit to the site; Heavy police presence at the area; Relatives look for belongings of the vicims.
Anti-social elements behind Hathras stampede, Bhole Baba never lets people touch his feet: Self-styled godman's lawyer

1 Appoint expert panel to probe tragedy: PIL in SC

A plea was filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking the appointment of a five-member expert committee under the supervision of a retired apex court judge to probe the Hathras stampede incident which claimed 121 lives.

2 PIL in Allahabad HC seeking CBI probe

A PIL was filed in the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday demanding a CBI inquiry into the stampede in Hathras which claimed 121 lives. The PIL filed by advocate Gaurav Dwivedi said the district officials are “fully responsible” for the negligence that led to the stampede.

3 Putin sends condolence message to Murmu, Modi

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in Astana for the Summit, sent a condolence message to President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Hathras tragedy. Modi is expected to visit Russia on July 8 for a leadership level meeting with Putin.

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