Allahabad stampede: Death toll reaches 36; Centre, UP govt in blame game

Even as the death toll in the stampede at Allahabad Railway Station reached 36 on Monday, both the Uttar Pradesh government and Railways tried to shrug off in taking moral responsibility.

Updated: Feb 12, 2013, 01:01 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Allahabad: Even as the death toll in the stampede at Allahabad Railway Station reached 36 on Monday, both the Uttar Pradesh government and Railways tried to shrug off in taking moral responsibility for the unfortunate incident.

In midst of the blame game between the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government over who was responsible for the stampede, Urban Development Minister in the Uttar Pradesh government Azam Khan quit as the in-charge of Maha Kumbh Mela organising committee saying that "Though the incident took place outside the Kumbh Mela premises, I take moral responsibility and resign as the in-charge of the Kumbh.”

Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal blamed huge rush of people for stampede at the foot-over-bridge at platform no. 6 of the Allahabad station. Bansal said "prima facie, the stampede appears to be a result of people entering the station both through the city side as well as the Civil Lines side."

"This was contrary to the plan the Railways had made in consultation with the local administration according to which crowds had to be directed only through the city side and the Civil Lines side was to be made accessible in the case of emergency with prior information to Railway officials," Bansal said.

"People should realise that Railways are not supposed to manage crowds. Its duty is to ferry people to their destinations," he said.

Two probes, one by the UP government and another by the Railways, to go into what triggered the stampede, have been ordered. The stampede broke out last night when the railway station was teeming with thousands of pilgrims returning home after a dip at the `Maha Kumbh` in Allahabad.

While Akhilesh Yadav remained busy with his cousin’s marriage and did not meet the victim’s families, Uttar Pradesh Panchayti Raj Minister Balram Yadav said the stampede at the Allahabad railway station took place due to ‘heavy and unmanageable’ rush of devotees.

“The state government had taken proper care of the facilities at the Meal area and the ‘Shahi Snan’ went very smoothly on Sunday, but the people, who had gathered since last six-seven days for ‘Mauni Amavasya’, and they returned in large number at the railway station. The crowd was very heavy and unmanageable there. A high level probe committee has been set up to look into the matter,” said Balram Yadav.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani said the truth would only be known once the probe, ordered by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, concludes. The lack of response teams and only one doctor at the railway station also left much to be answered.

Railways said a probe will be initiated into the railway station stampede here, which left 36 dead, once it is through with the task of clearing the rush of Kumbh pilgrims.

Alok Johri, the general manager of the North Central Railway zone told a news agency, “Our top priority is to ensure a safe return journey for the thousands of pilgrims who visited the Kumbh Mela yesterday. We are plying about two dozen special trains today to facilitate this".

Political parties blame Railways, UP govt

Opposition parties blamed the Railways and the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for the "avoidable" stampede during the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad that left 36 people dead and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

"This is a failure of both central and state government," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said demanding an independent judicial probe into the incident.

Expressing "horror and deep sorrow" at the incident, the CPI central secretariat demanded a judicial probe and proper medical facilities to all those injured.

JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the stampede was a matter of `intensive inquiry`.

There appears to be `negligence of duty` on the part of the Railways administration, Kumar who was the Railway Minister in AB Vajpayee government said in Patna.

Former union minister and Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy blamed the Railways and the local administration for the tragedy.

The Congress, meanwhile, promised action against the officials responsible for yesterday`s stampede but justified Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal`s defence of railway`s role into the incident.

"Uttar Pradesh government has set up an inquiry. Let the inquiry report come. We will find out. If there have been lapses, appropriate action will be taken against officers" and others who are responsible for it, party spokesperson Sandip Dikshit told reporters.

The stampede occurred at 7 PM yesterday at Platforms No 5 and 6 of Allahabad Railway Station where thousands of passengers, mostly Maha Kumbh devotees returning after taking the holy dip at the Sangam on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, had gathered to board a train.