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Hathras Tragedy – 116 Killed

Hathras Tragedy - 116 Killed

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The toll of the stampede that hit Hathras in Uttar Pradesh is mounting with every passing hour. According to officials, the number of deaths rose to 116—of them, 108 were women and seven children; they clarified it could go up further.

Now, police probe reaches the identity behind “Bhole Baba.” Identification of Bhole Baba as a former Sub-Inspector in the police department is made. Within two years of his joining the police job, Suraj Pal Singh resigned in 2006 and changed his name to Suraj Pal Singh Bhole Baba. Suraj Pal hails from Bahadur Nagar village in Kasganj district of Uttar Pradesh, and his father is a farmer.

Right since his childhood, Suraj Pal was interested in preaching. He got the job of a constable and later got promoted to SI. He served in 12 police stations and also worked in the local intelligence unit. Investigations revealed that Bhole Baba has devotees amongst the IAS officers, IPS officers, and prominent leaders. A dog squad and a forensic team examined the site of the incident.

The Satsang programmes of Bhole Baba have been going on for the past many days in Fullarai village of Hathras district. Yesterday was the last day of this programme, and as a result, more people came to have Baba’s darshan. The reason being told for this tragedy is the hurry among devotees for collecting the soil lying at Baba’s feet, due to which many people fell over each other and a stampede occurred. Many died from suffocation. First of all, nobody had expected so many causalities, but at the site of the stampede, bodies continued to be found. A few injured were admitted to hospital, of whom some died there.

On Tuesday, Bhole Baba did a session for one and a half hours. When he was leaving, all of a sudden, a rush of devotees to touch his feet have led to the stampede. Locals claimed that the marshy ground made the situation all the more dangerous. The premises where the program was being held also exceeded its capacity, and there were insufficient arrangements to deal with the huge rush of devotees. The incident occurred at approximately 3:30 PM yesterday. Police have registered a case against the organizers of the satsang. The UP government has announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

The incident occurred at a time when the Lok Sabha was in session. PM Modi condoled the incident immediately after coming to know about it. It was in the middle of his speech during the session. The central government announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased. President Droupadi Murmu condoned the incident, terming the loss of so many lives in the stampede tragic. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi also condoled and asked the government to take responsibility for supporting the families affected. He said members of the India Coalition should participate in leading the relief actions.

Every year, Bhole Baba holds a satsang program. He has flouted regulations in the past by holding gatherings well in excess of the specified number. Though this time, permits were sought for a gathering of 80,000 people, over 250,000 turned up. Willful destruction of evidence is suspected as so many deaths were caused due to the stampede. Cases have been registered against five organizers, but Bhole Baba’s name does not figure in the FIR; that very fact raises several suspicions.

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