Political parties blame Railways, UP govt for Allahabad tragedy

Opposition parties on Monday blamed the Railways and the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for the "avoidable" stampede during the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.

New Delhi: Opposition parties on Monday 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.

He said both the Railway Ministry and the UP Government were equally responsible for the incident as an unprecedented congregation was expected on `Mauni Amawasya`.

"The BJP condemns the blatant attempt of the central as well as the UP government to shift the blame on the other," he said.

"The Railway Minister cannot skip his duty by giving a technical answer that the Foot Over Bridge did not collapse but the stampede happened on the station. There was much chaos and could have been managed in a better way," he said.

The BJP also demanded immediate disbursement of compensation to the next of the kin of those killed.

Condoling the loss of lives, BJP President Rajnath Singh said the incident could have been avoided if adequate precautions had been taken at the railway station. "Whoever is responsible for this must be punished," he said.

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.

Roy alleged the Railways ran 75 trains as against 150 trains it earlier announced to ply on the occasion of "Mauni Amawasya", causing heavy rush of pilgrims at the station.

The TMC leader also alleged that the police lathicharged the pilgrims in the station, which "aggravated the situation" and resulted in the deaths and injuries.

"Both the Railways and the local administration were to blame for inept handling of the situation leading to the tragedy," Roy said.

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 here.

When asked why Bansal ruled out that the stampede was caused due to the breaking of foot-over bridge immediately even before an inquiry can begin, Dikshit said, "it may be that he has some information and hence he said based on that information."

The Congress spokesperson said that "currently the focus is on relief", when pointed that former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy have blamed Railways for the incident.

"We do not know what was the cause of the stampede incident. Let things come out in the inquiry report. Action will be taken, whoever is responsible," Dikshit said responding to questions on the issue.

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.