At least 121 people, mostly women, killed in stampede at India’s Hathras

By Saurabh Sharma and Shivam Patel, HATHRAS, India, July 3: The death toll from a stampede at a Hindu religious congregation in northern India has risen to 121, news agency ANI reported on Wednesday, where a police report said the number of people present was more than triple the permitted capacity.

The stampede on Tuesday was at the religious event in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state, about 200 km (125 miles) southeast of New Delhi, where police had given permission for 80,000 people to gather, according to the document, the first information report.

Around 250,000 people attended the event, according to the police report reviewed by Reuters.

At least 121 people were killed and 28 were injured, ANI news agency reported, citing local officials.

The victims included 108 women and seven children, Manoj Kumar Singh, Uttar Pradesh state’s chief secretary, told reporters.

The document described a scene of utter chaos when the preacher at the congregation, Surajpal, also known as ‘Bhole Baba’, was leaving in his car.

Thousands of devotees shouted and ran towards the car, crushing others still sitting in the gathering, according to the document. Some people also fell into an adjacent field of slush and mud and were trampled there.

Local media said the event was organised by a group of devotees but did not identify anyone. ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake, said police were trying to ascertain the whereabouts of the preacher.

Police officials in Hathras were not immediately available for comment.

The devotees at the event included Kamla, who said she had been attending the preacher’s gatherings for two decades.

“I went to attend Satsang (religious meet) with my 16-year-old daughter and a stampede broke out around 2 in the afternoon,” she told ANI.

Although both of them were injured, her daughter succumbed in hospital, she said.


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