Stampede During Procession In Varanasi, 18 People Dead
TV grab of people on the Rajghat bridge in Ramnagar, Varanasi
Varanasi: At least 18 people were killed and more than 20 injured in a stampede during a religious procession in Varanasi on Saturday.
The stampede occurred in the Ramnagar area of Varanasi during a demonstration in favour of prohibition by the followers of Baba Jai Gurudev.
Initial reports said the accident occurred due to poor crowd management on the Rajghat bridge across the Ganga river. The stampede was triggered when the followers surged to catch a glimpse of their religious leader.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each to the critically injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he has asked officials to ensure all possible help to those affected.
Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 15, 2016
Senior officials of police and administration have rushed to the spot to carry out relief and rescue measures.
The incident took place as people were brought for the camp in large numbers whereas permission was taken for a limited number of people, ADG (law and order) Daljit Chaudhary said in Lucknow.
"One person died of suffocation because of the surging crowd on the narrow bridge. This led to rumours which resulted in the stampede," Chaudhary said, adding that the number of casualties could go up.
The spokesperson of Jai Gurudev Sansthan, Raj Bahadur, said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp on the bridge but the police started sending them back even though the inflow on the bridge was not stopped.
This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed, which led to the stampede, he said, alleging that there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.