Rape Accused Baba: Rush for “Charan Dhul” turns Deadly in Hathras, over 120 dead

Hathras: In a tragic incident, a stampede during a religious gathering in Hathras resulted in the deaths of 122 people, with 28 others injured, this incident occurred at a Satsang of Baba Sakar Vishwa Hari Aka Bhole Baba. Eyewitnesses reported that the rush for blessings from Baba led to chaos. The Hathras Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Manjeet Singh, reported that 32 bodies were initially brought in, with 19 of them identified. Efforts are ongoing to identify the remaining victims. Aligarh District Magistrate Vishak G Iyer confirmed that 23 bodies were transported to Aligarh, with three injured individuals receiving treatment, one of whom is in critical condition. 

Bhole Baba, known for his magical abilities, is a former UP police staff, who was accused in a rape case. Later, terminated from the post of head constable. He has garnered a significant following among the followers of his caste in the Etah-Kasganj and Braj regions. His real name is Suraj Pal Jatav.

Incident Overview

The stampede broke out when devotees attempted to pursue Bhole Baba’s car after the satsang. Overcrowding at the venue and the frenzied rush to collect soil from the event site resulted in several people falling and being trampled. There were many women and children among the dead. The stampede scene was littered with personal things of the victims such as sandals, slippers, shoes, handbags and clothes across a 200-300 meter area. By late Tuesday night, the sight had been nearly cleared, with only iron rods supporting tent canopies remaining. 

Charan Dhul

Gopal Kumar, an eyewitness, recalled the gathering, which ended around 2PM, and the subsequent mayhem as devotees raced towards Baba Narayan Hari’s vehicle to collect “Charan Dhul” (dust off his feet) and obtain blessings. This surge prompted several people to slip and fall, resulting in a stampede. Another attendee, Urmila Devi, stated that Baba had asked the crowd to exercise caution owing to their enormous number, but the sole exit route towards the highway proved to be disastrous. Prerna Devi, a devotee receiving treatment at Hathras district hospital, described hugging her 5-year-old grandson, Lavi, tightly to protect him as they were caught in the crowd. A local doctor described the emotional toll of reporting such a significant number of deaths, the majority of which were women.

Details of the FIR

An FIR has been lodged under Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) sections 105(culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 110(attempt to commit culpable homicide), 126(2) (wrongful restraint), 223(disobedience to order duly promulgated by the public servant), 238(causing disappearance of evidence)

According to the FIR lodged, the satsang was organized by Suraj Jatav otherwise famously known as Bhole Baba near GT Road in the Phulrai Mugalgarhi village in Hathras district. Devprakash Madhukar had sought permission from the administration for around 80,000 people and the administration made traffic and safety arrangements accordingly. However, around 2.5 lakh people gathered at the satsang, causing heavy traffic on the road and halting vehicular movements.

The FIR states that after the satsang ended the uncontrollable crowd leaving the venue resulted in those sitting on the ground being crushed. Organizing committee members used sticks to forcibly stop the crowd, which further caused more people to be trampled. Police and administrative officials present on the spot made every effort to send the injured to hospitals but received no cooperation from the organizers.

Reactions and Condolences

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and wished for the speedy recovery of the injured. He also spoke with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath regarding the tragedy. 

Envoys from Germany, France, China, Israel and other countries have extended their condolences to the victims’ families. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar expressed deep distress over the incident. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav criticized the government for inadequate preparations despite knowing about the large gathering. 

Mahi Saha
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Mahi Saha, from Ranchi, reports for Neo Politico.

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