• Thursday, July 25, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Rahul Gandhi meets Hathras stampede victims’ kin, assures help

More than 120 people, including women and children, were killed in the tragedy that took place at a religious gathering of 250,000 people on July 2.

Indian leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi consoles a bereaved relative of one of the victims of the July 2 stampede in Hathras in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on July 5, 2024. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA’S leader of opposition Rahul Gandhi on Friday (5) visited Hathras in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh from Delhi by road to meet the families of those who either died or were injured in a stampede at a religious gathering on July 2.

The leader, who is an MP from the state, also went to Aligarh, located around 36 kilometres from Hathras, to meet people whose kin were affected in the incident. One hundred and twenty three people, including women and children, were killed in the stampede which took place at a ‘satsang’ (prayer meeting) of preacher Surajpal Singh aka ‘Bhole Baba’ in Fulari village in Hathras.

It was said that 250,000 people assembled at the area where the stampede happened while permission was given for 80,000. The tragedy happened when people rushed to seek blessings of ‘Bhole Baba’, a self-proclaimed godman, while he was leaving.

Bodies of all 123 victims were handed over to their respective families following identification.

One member of a bereaved family told Gandhi that the venue had no proper medical facility that could save lives and later said that the parliamentarian assured them that he would extend all possible help through his party. Her sister-in-law was killed in the stampede.

Another woman, whose mother and brother died, also said that Gandhi assured them of help.

Nitin Kumar, the son of Shanti Devi said that he went to the ‘satsang’ with his mother but got separated from her during the incident.

“My mother died. Her name was Shanti Devi. We went to the ‘satsang’ together. We were separated during the ‘satsang’. I came out of the event earlier. When the ‘satsang’ was over, I heard that a stampede had occurred. I went there to find my mother. After some time I came to know that my mother was taken to the hospital in the ambulance. My brother went to the hospital and saw that she was dead,” he said.

When asked about what Rahul Gandhi said about providing help, Nitin said, “He asked about our well-being and assured us of help of all kinds. We have also asked him to raise this issue in parliament so that such kind of incidents do not repeat.”

On Saturday (6), ‘Bhole Baba’ spoke on the matter for the first time saying he has full faith in the government that the culprits would not be spared.

The day before, Devprakash Madhurkar, the main organiser of the event, was arrested and taken into police custody. Earlier this week, six other volunteers were arrested in connection with the incident.

Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, also visited the site on Wednesday (3) and ordered a judicial probe. A three-member judicial commission was formed, chaired by a retired high court judge, to investigate the tragedy.

After meeting the bereaved families, Gandhi said most of them were poor and needed help. He urged Adityanath to provide “maximum compensation” to them.

“They are poor people and they need it [compensation] now. If you give them aid after six months, after a year or delay it, it will not benefit anyone,” the Congress leader said.

Speaking about his talks with the affected families, Gandhi said most of them said there was lapse on the part of the administration.

“They said adequate police deployment was not there. They are grieving and are in shock. I am trying to understand their situation,” he said.

Prime minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kind of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

(With ANI inputs)

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