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Dozens killed in stampede at a religious event in India

Over 100 people, including children, are believed to have died at a Hindu prayer meeting in Uttar Pradesh

Scores of people were killed and many others injured during a stampede at a religious gathering in India on Tuesday. The victims reportedly included women, and children as young as four.

The tragedy took place in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state. Police said that “suffocation” at the event venue caused people to rush outside, leading to a stampede, according to the Hindustan Times. Officials said that a sermon was being delivered by Bhole Baba, a Hindu preacher. Most of the attendees appeared to be female. 

The death toll climbed to 116 by Tuesday evening local time, according to ANI news agency, citing an official.

Footage showing numerous lifeless bodies, mainly of women, both on the ground and being carried in trucks and cars were doing the rounds on social media immediately after the tragedy occurred.

“Suddenly there was pushing and shoving as there were more people than space allowed,” Jyoti, a survivor, told the news agency IANS. “The incident happened after the [sermon] ended, when everyone tried to leave at once,” she said. Other witnesses claimed the local health center where many survivors and the bodies of the deceased were brought had only one doctor available. 

Local officials quoted by the media said it was a private event being held with the permission of authorities.

Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of the state, described the situation as “extremely sad and heart-wrenching” on X (formerly Twitter). A team comprising several senior officials has been set up to “investigate the causes” of the accident, he said. “Instructions have been given to the concerned officials to conduct relief and rescue operations on a war footing and to provide proper treatment to the injured.”

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has said he is “deeply saddened” by the turn of events.

The tragedy coincided with a parliamentary session, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delivering an address. Modi expressed condolences to the victims’ families and promised 200,000 rupees for the next of kin of those deceased and 50,000 rupees for those injured in the stampede.

Javed Ali Khan, a member of India’s Lower House (Lok Sabha) from Uttar Pradesh, suggested that the government should take more concrete action to ensure that such incidents do not happen again. “Just as the government insists that namaz for Eid be performed in 2-3 shifts, it should implement similar measures for other similar religious events,” he told PTI news agency. Khan represents the Samajwadi Party, a key member of the opposition bloc INDIA.

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July 02, 2024 at 09:38PM

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