Allahabad: At least 16 people were killed dead and many others injured in a stampede at Allahabad railway station in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. The stampede was caused after railing of an over bridge at the railway station collapsed. Officials, however, were yet to confirm the death toll.
Following the stampede, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced a committee which will probe into the incident. "We will investigate whether guidelines for managing the crowd was followed on the big day of Mauni Amavasya Snaan," said the state government in a statement. It also added that clear directions were given to local authorities that they should ensure that large number of people do not gather at one place. According to the initial reports, over two lakh people were present at the railway station when the stampede took place.
Condoling the incident, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh instructed the Union Railway Ministry
to provide all possible assistance to the Uttar Pradesh government in managing the incident. "I send my heartfelt condolences to the members of the
bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery," he said. Singh also announced a compensation for the families of the dead.
Over three crore people gathered in Allahabad on Sunday to take a holy dip on the occasion of 'Mauni Amavasya' - considered the most auspicious day during the 12-yearly congregation. "As per our estimates, three crore people have taken a holy dip till 3 pm. The influx of visitors has slowed down a bit since then but the turn-out has already exceeded our expectations," Kumbh Mela Officer Mani Prasad Mishra had said earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, reacting to the incident the DIG Railway Allahabad said that he was very shocked that despite all arrangements "this sad incident took place". "We are trying our best to bring the situation under control," he said.
The witnesses, however alleged that no doctor or ambulance came to their rescue for two-and-a-half hours. "There was no one to attend to the injured people. We were climbing the stairs when the bridge gave away. The police were unable to control the crowd. They began lathicharging us," said one of the witnesses.
Speaking to reporters, Railway Minister PK Bansal said that he has been told that around 10 people have died so far in the incident. He, however, said that he would be able to confirm the death toll only after speaking to the officials looking after the security arrangements in Allahabad. "According to my information around 10 people have died and over 12 injured. I don't want to comment on others things now," he said.
The ritual of bathing started on Saturday afternoon itself when 'Mauni Amavasya' began according to the Hindu almanac and reached its crescendo on Sunday morning. Through the day, a steady stream of devotees was seen at railway stations and bus stations where people from nearby as well as far-off places took to roads and pathways all of which seemed to be leading towards the Sangam on this day. A railway station in the neighbouring district of Pratapgarh was vandalised on Sunday morning by people angry over non-availability of a special train for a trip to the holy Sangam.
Tight security arrangements were in place with more than 15,000 security personnel drawn from central paramilitary forces like ITBP, CRPF, BSF and RAF besides the Uttar Police and its Provincial Armed Constabulary and Anti Terrorist Squad keeping a close vigil. Besides, the Army conducted aerial surveys every few minutes.
Here are the helplines numbers:
New Delhi Railway Station helpine: 011-23342954, 011-23341074
Nizamuddin Railway Station helpline: 011-24357660
Chandauli and Mughalsarai Railway Stations helpline number: 05412-73678, 05412-254115
(With additional information from PTI)