'Bhole baba's call to collect soil under his feet led to stampede'

The three-member judicial commission recorded around 34 statements in connection with the July 2 stampede which claimed 121 lives in Hathras.
Relatives mourn at the residence of three family members who died in the recent stampede at the 'satsang' of Baba Narayan Hari alias Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba in Hathras
Relatives mourn at the residence of three family members who died in the recent stampede at the 'satsang' of Baba Narayan Hari alias Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba in HathrasPhoto | PTI

LUCKNOW: The three-member judicial commission, led by retired High Court Judge Justice Brajesh Kumar Srivastava, interacted with residents of Sikandra Rau in Hathras in due course of the investigation.

It recorded around 34 statements in connection with the July 2 stampede which claimed 121 lives in Hathras. The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex decision-making body of the ancient Hindu monastic orders is set to issue guidelines against fake saints and seers.

Most of the witnesses and residents, who deposed before the commission on Sunday, claimed that the stampede was triggered as Bhole Baba had asked the followers to collect his soil under his feet as it would heal all their illnesses and solve all their problems.

As a result people, mostly, women, rushed towards him leading to the stampede.

Relatives mourn at the residence of three family members who died in the recent stampede at the 'satsang' of Baba Narayan Hari alias Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba in Hathras
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As per the sources, a few witnesses also told the commission that Baba’s sewadars were too rough while handling the crowd. They were allegedly pushing the devotees to clear the passage for Baba’s cavalcade.

Inadequate deployment of police force at the venue came out as another reason for the tragedy. The three-member commission, led by retired Justice Srivastava, comprises retired IAS officer Hemant Rao and retired IPS Bhavesh Kumar.

The probe panel has been given two months to submit the report. The commission members also visited the site of the tragedy.

Meanwhile, as per the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) sources, a meeting of the Akhara Parishad has been called on July 18 in Prayagraj to discuss the preparations for the forthcoming Mahaklumbh-2025 and also issue guidelines along with the list of fake saints and seers.

Relatives mourn at the residence of three family members who died in the recent stampede at the 'satsang' of Baba Narayan Hari alias Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba in Hathras
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According to Akhara Parishad president Mahant Ravindra Puri, a call would also be given that fake and self-styled seers may not be allowed to demand land and other facilities to set up their camps during the once-in-12-year fair on Sangam banks.

Acharya Devendra Shastri, a member of the executive committee of the Akhara Parishad and a saint of Nirmal Anand Akhara, said such incidents like Hathras stampede put a blot on all saints and seers.

He claimed that all the 13 akharas would have to come forward unitedly on this issue and take a stand against fake saints. Shastri sought the government’s assistance in identifying such fake elements who were taking innocent people on a ride in the name of Satsang.

He added that the government should discuss the issue because the saints at their front did not have any agency through which they could identify such fake babas and take action against them.

On the other, a few local leaders of the Aam Admi Party started a protest at the locked Agra residence of Bhole Baba demanding his arrest in connection with the stampede.

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