Stampede at Indian Religious Gathering Claims Over 116 Lives

Featured & Cover Stampede at Indian Religious Gathering Claims Over 116 Lives

In a tragic incident on Tuesday, thousands of attendees at a religious gathering in India rushed to leave a makeshift tent, resulting in a deadly stampede that killed at least 116 people and injured many more, according to officials.

The cause of the panic, which followed an event featuring Hindu guru Bhole Baba, remains unclear. However, local news reports suggested that the intense heat and lack of ventilation in the tent might have played a role. Video footage from the scene showed that the tent structure had collapsed.

Prashant Kumar, the director-general of police in Uttar Pradesh, confirmed that most of the deceased were women and children. The stampede occurred in this northern state, where over 80 injured individuals were admitted to hospitals, as stated by senior police officer Shalabh Mathur.

Witness Shakuntala Devi described the chaotic scene to the Press Trust of India: “People started falling one upon another, one upon another. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out.”

As bodies of the deceased, covered in white sheets, were lined up on stretchers at a local hospital, relatives expressed their grief and despair. A bus brought in more victims, with bodies lying on the seats inside.

Stampedes at religious festivals in India are not uncommon due to large crowds, inadequate infrastructure, and insufficient safety measures. Rajesh Singh, a police officer, indicated that the event in Hathras district, about 350 kilometers southwest of the state capital Lucknow, likely faced overcrowding.

Organizers had reportedly received permission to host around 5,000 people, but more than 15,000 attended the event led by the Hindu preacher, who previously served as a police officer before dedicating himself to religious sermons over the past two decades.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and assured that the federal government was coordinating with state authorities to provide assistance to the injured. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath described the incident as “heart-wrenching” in a post on X, and mentioned that an investigation was underway.

“Look what happened and how many people have lost their lives. Will anyone be accountable?” questioned Rajesh Kumar Jha, a member of parliament. He criticized both state and federal governments for their failure to manage large crowds and warned that “people will keep on dying” if safety protocols are not adequately enforced.

This tragic event is reminiscent of past stampedes in India. In 2013, during a popular Hindu festival in Madhya Pradesh, pilgrims trampled each other fearing a bridge collapse, resulting in at least 115 deaths. Similarly, in 2011, over 100 Hindu devotees perished in a crush at a religious festival in Kerala.

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