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Hathras Stampede: SIT Report Blames Slack Administration, Four Officials Suspended

Hathras Stampede: SIT Report Blames Slack Administration, Four Officials Suspended

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, July 9: The two-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Uttar Pradesh government has squarely blamed the administration for the Hathras stampede tragedy for allowing the congregation without inspecting the venue of the “satsang.”

The SIT comprising Additional Director General of Police (Agra Zone) Anupam Kulshrestha and Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chaitra V, formed immediately after the stampede on July 2 in which 121 people, mostly women and children were killed, submitted its report to the UP government on Tuesday.

The SIT inspected the incident site on July 2, 3 and 5. During the investigation, statements of 125 people, including administrative and police officials, the general public and eyewitnesses, were recorded. Apart from this, copies of news published in connection with the incident, on-site videography, photographs, and video clippings were taken into cognisance.

In its report the panel said “the administration allowed religious gathering in Hathras without the inspection of the spot or venue.” “The local administration and police took the event lightly and never informed the seniors about the same,” the report said.

On the basis of the report, the UP Government immediately suspended the SDM, SHO, Circle Officer and Tehsildar after of Hathras on Tuesday. “In its preliminary investigation, the SIT has held the event organisers primarily responsible for the stampede on the basis of eyewitnesses and other evidence. The SIT did not rule out any big conspiracy behind the incident and has stated the need for a thorough investigation,” officials said.

“The Sub-District Magistrate of Sikandrarau granted permission for the event without inspecting the venue and did not even inform the senior officials,” the report said, adding the official did not take the event seriously. The SIT recommended action against the concerned officials posted in Sikandrarau, including the SDM, circle officer, SHO Sikandrarau police station, tehsildar, and police outpost in charge of Kachora and Pora.

“The organisers took permission to organise the programme by hiding facts. The conditions applicable for permission were not followed. The organisers did not make adequate and smooth arrangements by inviting an unexpected crowd. Nor were the conditions of permission given by the local administration for the program followed,” the SIT report said.

People associated with the organising committee have been found guilty of creating chaos, it said, adding that they engaged volunteers without proper police verification. “The organising committee misbehaved with the police. An attempt was made to stop the local police from inspecting the event venue,” it said.

The Satsangkarta or preacher (Bhole Baba) was allowed to meet the crowd without any security arrangements, it said. Given the huge crowd, no barricading or passage arrangements were made and when the accident occurred, the members of the organising committee fled from the spot, it added.

A separate judicial commission headed by retired Allahabad High Court judge Brijesh Kumar Shrivastava, and retired IPS Hemant Rao is also probing the Hathras stampede case. Earlier, Government agencies, including police, have so far blamed the organisers for the mismanagement at the event, noting that the size of the crowd exceeded to over 2.50 lakh against the permitted 80,000.

A scrutiny of the situation surrounding the “satsang” event is also scheduled in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, during oral mentioning on Tuesday informed in the Supreme Court that the Hathras incident would be listed for judicial hearing. “I had yesterday ordered the Hathras matter to be listed,” the Chief Justice said.

A writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court on July 3 to appoint a five-member expert committee under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge to inquire into the stampede incident. The petition filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari also asked the court to lay down safety guidelines for mass meetings and public gatherings.

“Several questions brew up from this horrific incident of stampede thereby questioning the duty and lapse of State Government and Municipal Corporations. Apart from the failure of maintaining and administering the supervision, the authorities have also failed in controlling the crowd gathered for the event,” the petition has submitted.

It has urged the court to direct the UP government to submit a status report and initiate legal action against those who had acted negligently about the safety and crowd control measures. “States should issue guidelines to prevent stampedes for the safety of the public attending such religious or other events in large numbers. States should submit reports on medical facilities available at various levels to deal with such stampede or other incidents,” the petition, which also referred to some past incidents of stampede in different parts of the country, has noted.

So far, nine people including the main organiser and fund raiser of the event Devprakash Madhukar have been arrested in connection with the stampede. The self-styled godman Surajpal alias Narayan Sakar Hari alias Bhole Baba whose “satsang” at Phulrai village led to the stampede, however, has not been mentioned as an accused in the FIR lodged at the local Sikandrarau police station on July 2.

Reports emanating from Bhole Baba’s one of the ashrams in Khedli town in Alwar district in Rajasthan was shrouded in mystery and controversy. Spanning approximately one and a half bigha, the ashram is surrounded by high walls that obscure any view of its interior. Local villagers claim that entry was strictly prohibited without permission, with even local residents barred from accessing the premises. Inside, the ashram is said to be equipped with modern amenities, including air-conditioned rooms and lavish facilities.

One of the most contentious aspects of the ashram is its policy on entry, particularly during the presence of Bhole Baba himself. Villagers allege that only female devotees are allowed inside during these times, with male followers and local residents denied entry. Reports from locals suggest that attempts to breach this rule have led to physical altercations, purportedly carried out by Baba’s attendants. These incidents, described as beatings, are allegedly justified as “blessings” by the ashram’s staff.

Phool Singh Yadav, a local ward panchayat member, disclosed that the ashram, operational since 2010, was built on land purchased from villagers nearly a decade ago. He recounted incidents where followers, attempting to gain access for Baba’s sermons or darshan, were reportedly assaulted by ashram attendants. In response to objections, victims are said to have rationalised their injuries as divine blessings bestowed upon them by Baba himself.



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