At least 24 killed in Varanasi stampede
The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp, police said.
About one lakh devotees took part in the procession despite the fact that permission was sought for a gathering of only 3,000 people.
People from different places participated in the procession moving towards Domari village to join the assembly. The entire route witnesses a massive traffic jam due to the huge gathering of people. The stamped occurred when people were moving downward from the Rajghat bridge causing deaths of men and women.
One person died due to suffocation on the bridge because of the surging crowd on the narrow Ganga bridge leading to rumours which resulted in the stampede, ADG law and order Daljit Chaudhary said.
Spokesman of Jai Gurudev Sansthan, Raj Bahadur said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp, but police started sending them back though they kept on thronging the bridge. This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed leading to stampede, Raj Bahadur said, alleging there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi , who is also the MP from Varanasi, expressed anguish over the incident and asked senior officials to take stock of the situation. He also announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured,” the PM tweeted.
“I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi,” he said in another tweet.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs each to next of kin of those killed and free treatment to the injured, who have been admitted to different hospitals in Varanasi and Chandauli, IG (Law and Order) Hariom Sharma said.
Senior police and administration officials of Varansi and Chandauli have rushed to the spot to carry out relief and rescue operations. Sharma said an inquiry will be instituted to ascertain if any lapses led to the incident.
Home Secretary S K Raghuvanshi and ADG (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary have rushed to monitor the rescue work, officials said in Lucknow.