CNN-IBN's senior special correspondent Shreya Dhoundial joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Allahabad stampede.
Q. What is your take on honorable minister Mr Mohammad Azam Khan, who has blamed news channels for creating panic in the aftermath of the stampede? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. Mr Azam Khan is clearly clueless about what he is talking about. It was only when the media started reporting on the scale of the tragedy did the local administration get into the act of trying to arrange for relief & rescue. Mr Azam Khan was in charge of the mela before. Before pointing finger at the media, can he please explain to us why after four hours of the stampede, there was not even a single doctor to help those who needed medical attention. There are many people who died at the platform because help didn't reach them on time. Azam Khan has resigned as the minister of the Kumbh mela in a fit of symbolism. With that he has also freed himself of the responsibility of answering some tough questions.
Q. Primary reports suggest that the railways did little to prepare itself. Railway Minister Pawan Bansal himself said in interviews that they did not expect such crowds while for a week it was public knowledge that 30 million people will congregate. Your take on the same? Asked by: Vivek Dalmia
A. When I reached the railway station, roughly 3 hrs after the stampede, 13 bodies were lying at the platform without a single stretcher to carry them out. The railway official there clearly was at sea. Not knowing how to respond to the tragedy. The railways knew for a year that they would have to deal with a huge crowd on Mauni Amavasya. They should have been prepared for worst but they clearly were not.
Q. A politician has to take the blame. We cannot just blame the line officers of either the state or railways. Who do you think needs to take it, Azam Khan or Pawan Bansal? Asked by: Vivek Dalmia
A. Both but what I have seen on the ground, it was the railways which was caught with its pants down.
Q. Do you think that our religious norms/carnivals aren't well organised with proper measures before the start of the event? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. Look the Kumbh mela has been organised fairly well. If you just look at the Kumbh Nagri where the ritual bath takes place. About 3.5 crore people took a dip without any major incident at the ghat. So the mela per se was not badly organised but yes, what happened outside the mela parisar, is too something the administration should have looked more seriously into.
Q. Why did Azam Khan resign as minister-in-charge of Kumbh? If he really has courage, he should step down from the government. Asked by: Sandeep
A. Yes absolutely right. I agree with you. His gesture is symbolic & means nothing to those who have lost there loved ones in the stampede.
Q. Allahabad railway station stampede: did Akhilesh Yadav meet the injured? Asked by: devanjan
A. Yes, he was here today. He has distributed some cheques and cash to them. But had he looked closely he would have met many many people outside the hospital carrying passport size photograph of their missing relatives. They are the real ones who need his help now.
Q. Preventing such incidents hereafter shall only be the solution for this tragedy. But as a country where are we heading? Why do we address issues only after seeing the consequences? Is this the sign of the so-called "one of the fastest growing countries in the world"? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. The tragedy is, we never seem to learn from our mistakes. This is not a first time a stampede has happen in the country. Remember, there was one in 2001 as well at the New Delhi railway station. When one of the fastest growing economy in the world is slow to react to a stampede, there is certainly something wrong.
Q. Do you think that a "Unified Action Plan Blue Print for Religious Festivals" to be applied to both Center and States. This needs to be issued and made mandatory for the standard operating procedures. So that the lack of co-ordination, often responsible for such instances, can be avoided? Asked by: Vivek Dalmia
A. Absolutely I do. I hope the government takes your suggestion seriously.