• 22 Jul, 2024

Deadly Stampede Claims 116 Lives at Religious Gathering in Uttar Pradesh

Deadly Stampede Claims 116 Lives at Religious Gathering in Uttar Pradesh

More than a dozen people injured in crush in a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Hathras district.

A tragic stampede at a Hindu religious event in northern India has resulted in the deaths of at least 116 people, with more than a dozen others injured. The incident occurred on Tuesday in a village in Uttar Pradesh state's Hathras district, approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of New Delhi.

The stampede took place as a large crowd was leaving a sermon by a preacher known as Bhole Baba. A sudden dust storm reportedly sparked panic among the attendees, leading to chaos as people rushed to exit the area. Many were crushed or trampled in the ensuing confusion, with some falling into a roadside drain.

Prashant Kumar, the director general of police in Uttar Pradesh, confirmed that the majority of the victims were women and children. Senior police officer Shalabh Mathur corroborated the death toll and reported that at least 18 people were injured. The state's chief medical officer, Umesh Kumar Tripathi, stated that many injured individuals have been admitted to local hospitals.

Overcrowding may have been a contributing factor to the tragedy. Initial reports suggest that more than 15,000 people had gathered for the event, which had only been granted permission for about 5,000 attendees.

Survivors recounted the rapid onset of the stampede. One witness, identified only as Jyoti, told local media, "Everyone was in a rush to leave. ... There was no way out, and people were falling on each other."

In response to the incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an investigation and instructed officials to conduct relief and rescue operations "on war footing." Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced compensation of $2,400 for the families of the deceased and $600 for those injured. President Droupadi Murmu expressed her condolences, describing the deaths as "heart-rending."

This tragedy is the latest in a series of deadly incidents at religious gatherings in India. In 2016, 112 people lost their lives in an explosion caused by banned fireworks at a temple in Kerala state. In 2013, a stampede at a bridge near a temple in Madhya Pradesh claimed 115 lives, while a 2008 incident at a hilltop temple in Rajasthan resulted in 224 deaths and over 400 injuries.

The frequency of such accidents highlights the ongoing challenges of managing large crowds at religious events in India. Safety measures often struggle to keep pace with the massive influxes of devotees, particularly during major festivals.

As the investigation into this latest tragedy unfolds, questions are likely to arise about crowd management strategies, emergency response protocols, and the enforcement of capacity limits at religious gatherings. The incident serves as a somber reminder of the potential dangers associated with mass gatherings and the critical importance of implementing robust safety measures.

Local authorities are now focused on providing support to the families of the victims and ensuring proper medical care for the injured. As the community grapples with this devastating loss, there will undoubtedly be calls for increased vigilance and improved safety standards at future religious events across the country.

Syed Haider

Syed Haider