Hathras Stampede, Bhole Baba: Hathras Organisers “Failed To Make Adequate Arrangement”: Probe Report

Hathras Stampede Report Cites Mismanagement, 6 Officials Suspended For Negligence

121 people, mostly women and children, died in the stampede in UP’s Hathras.

New Delhi:

The in Uttar Pradesh district official – a sub divisional magistrate – who permitted ‘godman’ Bhole Baba‘s ‘prayer meet’ near Hathras, at which a stampede killed 121 people – has been suspended.

The SDM – who neither inspected the venue nor informed his seniors, according to a SIT report submitted to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Tuesday morning – is one of six district officials, including a Circle Officer and a Tehsildar, who have been removed from active duty.

The SIT report also said the organisers and local officials, including the police, were negligent and “failed to make adequate arrangements”. They did not take the event “seriously”, it declared.

The fact that the organisers – who have been held “primarily responsible” – involved, or hired, individuals without police verification has been held up as an example of that negligence.

And, in a lapse of protocol, local police did not inform, as soon as they should have, their seniors of the stampede and the deaths, the report said. The probe team also echoed the Chief Minister in suggesting the “possibility of a major conspiracy”, and recommended a more detailed investigation.

‘Overcrowding Led To Stampede’

The SIT, which includes Additional Director General of Police (Agra Zone) Anupam Kulshrestha and Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chaitra V, also flagged overcrowding as a cause of the stampede.

READ | “Overcrowding…”: Hathras Stampede Probe Team Report

In earlier police reports it was said the organisers said they expected 80,000 people at the ‘satsang‘, but the final (estimated) headcount was over 2.5 lakh. The cops believe the organisers deliberately underplayed the number, possibly to face fewer restrictions in hosting the event and circumvent additional crowd safety measures; in any case, it appears even those were not ensured.

READ | Bhole Baba Explains Mad Rush At ‘Satsang’ Where 121 Were Killed

Other reports indicate this is not the first time a ‘prayer meet’ organised for Bhole Baba, has deceived the authorities about expected attendances; in May 2022, during the COVID pandemic, permission was sought for a rally for 50 in Farrukhabad district but it entertained over 50,000.

SIT Report Into Hathras Stampede

The report is based on statements from 125 people – from eyewitnesses and survivors to police and district officials. In addition, news reports and photographs and video footage were also examined.

Six officials, including the SDM who allowed the ‘satsang‘ to take place, have been suspended so far, and nine people, including the main organiser – Devprakash Madhukar – have been arrested.

Those suspended include police personnel and district officials.

READ | Organisers Among 6 Held, ‘Bhole Baba’ Questioning “If Needed”

Bhole Baba – his real name is Suraj Pal Singh – has not been named as an accused or questioned.

Unconfirmed reports said Bhole Baba, who may have political connections after it emerged he had received funding from some parties, and his aides could have prevented the tragedy.

One Entry, One Exit For Crowd Of 2.5 Lakh

Tough questions have been asked of the police and the district officials after the stampede.

This included why there were no safety measures, such as designated entry and exit points.

READ | In Hathras Stampede, One Entry, One Exit For 2.5 Lakh People

The police have also said there were no ambulances or medical stations at the site.

Emergency exits and evacuation routes were either not made available or not clearly marked, which added to the chaos once the stampede broke.

Police have also accused the organisers of not helping manage pedestrian and vehicular traffic and, crucially, destroying or hiding evidence after the stampede. In today’s report the probe team said organisers were guilty of “spreading chaos” and even tried to stop cops from inspecting the venue.

In addition, there was no ventilation in tents that housed Bhole Baba’s followers.

READ | After Hathras Tragedy, On-Camera Statement From ‘Bhole Baba’

The conduct of his private security guards has also invited criticism, particularly since the police believe they stopped people trying to escape so he could drive away.

Financial Compensation Offered

The Chief Minister announced Rs 2 lakh for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

READ | “Organisers Tried To Cover Up”: Yogi Adityanath On Stampede

“Our government will get to the bottom of this incident and give appropriate punishment to the conspirators and those responsible. The state is investigating… We will see if it is an accident or a conspiracy,” Yogi Adityanath said after visiting Hathras.

Hathras Tragedy In Supreme Court

A top court lawyer has filed a plea asking for a five-member committee, to be led by a retired judge, to probe reasons for the stampede. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud set it for a Friday hearing.

READ | Hathras Stampede Tragedy Reaches Supreme Court

The petitioner has also demanded the state submit a status report and take legal action against those responsible. The petition urged the Supreme Court to frame the required guidelines.

Who Is Bhole Baba?

Born in Bahadur Nagari village in UP’s Etah district to a farmer – Nanne Lal – and Katori Devi, the self-styled guru’s original name is Suraj Pal. He was a Head Constable for the state police force.

READ | ‘Guru’ Behind ‘Satsang’ Claimed He Worked For Intelligence Bureau

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He left his job in 1999 and changed his name to Narayan Saakar Hari. Since then he has claimed he worked for the Intelligence Bureau after college, and turned towards spirituality during his time there.

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