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Hathras Stampede Report Cites Mismanagement, Six Officials Suspended for Negligence

SIT Report Leads to Suspension of Six Officials for Negligence in Hathras Stampede Incident

The Uttar Pradesh district official, a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), who permitted ‘godman’ Bhole Baba’s ‘prayer meet’ near Hathras, where a stampede claimed the lives of 121 people, has been suspended.

According to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) report submitted to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday morning, the SDM failed to inspect the venue or inform his superiors. He is among six district officials, including a Circle Officer and a Tehsildar, who have been removed from active duty.

The SIT report highlighted negligence on the part of the organizers and local officials, including the police, stating they failed to make adequate arrangements and did not take the event seriously. It also noted that the organizers hired individuals without proper police verification, exacerbating the situation.

 Overcrowding and Poor Management

The SIT, which included Additional Director General of Police (Agra Zone) Anupam Kulshrestha and Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chaitra V, identified overcrowding as a major cause of the stampede. Initial reports suggested the organizers expected 80,000 attendees, but over 2.5 lakh people showed up. The organizers allegedly underplayed the expected number to face fewer restrictions and avoid additional crowd safety measures.

This isn’t the first instance of Bhole Baba’s events deceiving authorities about attendance figures. During the COVID pandemic in May 2022, a rally in Farrukhabad district was permitted for 50 people but attracted over 50,000 attendees.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The report, based on statements from 125 people, including eyewitnesses, survivors, police, and district officials, as well as news reports, photographs, and video footage, pointed to multiple lapses:
– Lack of safety measures such as designated entry and exit points.
– Absence of ambulances and medical stations at the site.
– Failure to provide emergency exits and evacuation routes.
– Organizers not assisting in managing pedestrian and vehicular traffic and allegedly destroying or hiding evidence post-stampede.

The SIT recommended a more detailed investigation, suggesting the possibility of a major conspiracy. Nine people, including the main organizer Devprakash Madhukar, have been arrested.

 Financial Compensation and Legal Actions

The Chief Minister announced ₹ 2 lakh for the families of those killed and ₹ 50,000 for the injured. He assured that the government would thoroughly investigate the incident and punish those responsible.

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a five-member committee led by a retired judge to probe the reasons for the stampede. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has set the hearing for Friday.

 Background on Bhole Baba

Bhole Baba, born Suraj Pal Singh in Bahadur Nagari village in UP’s Etah district, was a Head Constable in the state police force before becoming a self-styled guru. The incident has raised questions about his events and the lack of proper management and oversight by local authorities.

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