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A tragedy struck in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, as a stampede at a’satsang’ led by self-styled godman Suraj Pal resulted in 121 deaths. Inadequate security and poor crowd management were major factors. In an effort to hold them accountable, investigations are still underway.

In a devastating turn of events, a stampede in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras claimed the lives of 121 people during a ‘satsang’ gathering led by self-styled godman Suraj Pal, also known as Narayan Saakar Hari or Bhole Baba. The tragedy, which occurred as followers scrambled to collect dust stirred up by the godman’s departing car, highlights severe lapses in crowd management and security.

A Gathering Gone Horribly Wrong

The ‘satsang’ was organized with permission for 80,000 attendees; however, the event saw an overwhelming crowd of over 2.5 lakh people. As Suraj Pal was leaving, his followers rushed to collect the dust stirred up by his car, leading to chaos and a deadly stampede. According to the subdivisional magistrate’s report, the godman’s private security guards exacerbated the situation by pushing followers, causing many to fall and get trampled. The rush left many, including women and children, suffocating and crushed underfoot.

Inadequate Security and Poor Planning

Eyewitnesses reported that only about 40 police personnel were present to manage the massive gathering, leaving them overwhelmed when the stampede broke out. The FIR highlights that the organizers had concealed the expected number of attendees and failed to meet traffic management conditions, contributing to the disaster.

The tragedy resulted in 121 deaths and 28 injuries, with the injured currently receiving treatment in hospitals. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has assured that a thorough investigation will be conducted to hold those responsible accountable. However, no arrests have been made so far, and significantly, the godman himself has not been named an accused and is currently missing.

Legal and Political Fallout

The FIR names Devprakash Madhukar, the main organizer, along with other unidentified individuals, as responsible for the tragedy. The charges include culpable homicide not amounting to murder and wrongful restraint. The FIR also mentions attempts to dispose of key evidence, such as the clothes and footwear of the victims.

Yogi Adityanath, visiting Hathras, emphasized the state government’s commitment to uncovering the truth. “Our government will get to the foot of this occurrence and provide fitting discipline to the backstabbers and those dependable,” Adityanath expressed. He also mentioned that the investigation would determine whether the incident was an accident or a conspiracy.

Opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav, former Chief Minister and president of the Samajwadi Party, called for a thorough probe to identify the human errors that led to the tragedy and to prevent future mishaps. “A thorough probe and action can stop a recurrence of such mishaps,” according to him.

An Ongoing Investigation

State police chief Prashant Kumar has refrained from drawing immediate conclusions about the potential arrest of the self-styled godman, stating, “Right now, everything is a matter of investigation. We don’t need to impact the examination by drawing any quick conclusions.The scope of the investigation is open. Activity will be taken based on the realities that come to light amid the examination.”

As the investigation continues, the Haters tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the consequences of inadequate crowd control and the need for stringent safety measures at large gatherings. The loss of life has left the community in mourning and demanding justice for the victims of this preventable disaster.

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