At least someone bothered to visit: Locals on Rahul Gandhi's Hathras visit

During his visit, Gandhi said there were lapses on the part of the administration and mistakes had been made which should be identified.
 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi meets families of the victims of Hathras stampede incident, at Green Park in Hathras, Friday, July 5, 2024.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi meets families of the victims of Hathras stampede incident, at Green Park in Hathras, Friday, July 5, 2024. (PTI Photo)

HATHRAS: "Everyone is busy doing politics. It is good that at least someone bothered to come here," says Vineet Kumar, 26, outside a park in Hathras' Vibhav Nagar area where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi met the families of the July 2 stampede victims.

Kumar, who is preparing for the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination, is not the only one who feels this way.

Some other youngsters echoed the sentiment.

"It is okay if the reason behind his visit is to meet the (stampede) victims. At least a popular politician has turned up in Vibhav Nagar," Shubham Bharti, 27, told PTI on Friday.

Mahendra, 26, said people were excited to see Gandhi. "We also wanted to come here but the area around Vibhav Nagar was barricaded in the morning," said Mahendra, also a government job aspirant.

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi meets families of the victims of Hathras stampede incident, at Green Park in Hathras, Friday, July 5, 2024.
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Ahead of Gandhi's visit, a multi-layered security ring was thrown around the area with a large number of security personnel deployed along the key routes in the city.

The street leading to the meeting venue, Green Park, in Vibhav Nagar had deployment every few metres and barricades restricting entry of cars while shops on the route remained closed till Gandhi left the area.

People gathered on the terraces of their homes and had unusual guests -- security personnel -- for company.

This PTI correspondent saw some security personnel closely monitoring the scene, some with binoculars.

Not everyone was excited about the VIP visit.

Daya Ram, a daily wager from Navipur locality, said he missed work due to road closures.

"I take the route through Vibhav Nagar to go to Labour Chowk. But today, due to all this, I could not get there in time," Ram told PTI.

He said a mason like him earns between Rs 500 and Rs 700 for a day's work but he missed out on his daily earnings today.

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi meets families of the victims of Hathras stampede incident, at Green Park in Hathras, Friday, July 5, 2024.
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Visibly overwhelmed by the presence of the large number of mediapersons around Green Park, Ram said he was yet to decide if he should return home or wait and see what was happening.

A 13-year-old boy, who came to take back his family's pedestal fan from the park after Gandhi's visit, told PTI that he skipped school as his school van could not come to pick him up.

Gandhi, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, met the families of some of the victims of the Hathras stampede, which claimed 121 lives, on Friday.

He interacted with the families in the locality's park and left after 30 minutes.

During his visit, Gandhi said there were lapses on the part of the administration and mistakes had been made which should be identified.

He urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to release the maximum compensation for the victims' families without any delay.

Police have so far arrested six 'sevadars' who were members of the organising committee of the 'satsang' of Surajpal alias Narayan Sakar Hari alias Bhole Baba that was held in Phulrai village.

The self-styled godman has not been named in the police FIR.

Gandhi last visited Hathras in October 2020 with his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra amid high drama to meet the family of a Dalit girl who had died a fortnight after she was allegedly raped outside her village in the Chandpa area.

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