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Mayavati irate after stampede

Lucknow, Sept. 29: Chief minister Mayavati today ordered a high-level inquiry into yesterday’s stampede at Charbagh railway station where 17 people were killed and hundreds injured.

The people were returning after attending a BSP rally.

Principal secretary (planning) S.N. Jha is conducting a post-mortem of what went wrong and where.

Mayavati is furious that what was touted as the most successful political rally of recent times went wrong because the administration failed to regulate the crowd and ensure its safe return. Sources close to the chief minister indicated that some heads were bound to roll.

The government also admits that it hadn’t done enough. “Something was definitely lacking in the arrangements. If they had been adequate, then such a tragedy would not have taken place. But, there were unprecedented crowds. Too many people were trying to travel at the same time. It happened due to people’s haste,” reasoned Swami Prasad Maurya, a BSP minister.

She has announced ex gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh each to the kith and kin of the killed, Rs 25,000 to those suffering major injuries and Rs 5,000 for minor injuries.

Nearly one lakh rallyists reached the station late on Saturday evening to catch trains to return home. In the mad rush, people tripped while descending the stairs over platform number seven to catch a train and the resultant chaos.

“I couldn’t find my feet on the large stairs. I somehow managed to get up there but then we were turned back. Someone pushed from behind and everyone started falling down,” said Harish Chandra, one of the injured.

At the railway station, several hours after the stampede, thousands were jostling for space. But the rally organisers swung into action immediately. Night shelters were hastily erected. The railway authorities organised some special trains and the administration deployed special buses. But still many remain stranded.

“I came here yesterday by Sabarmati Express. I just ate some rice and bananas then and I don’t know where to catch another train. I’m just roaming from here and there,” said Phulva from Akbarpur.

The district officials are discussing with the railway authorities how to ensure safe and speedy return of the people still stranded at Charbagh.

Learning a lesson from yesterday’s incident, they have also started making arrangements for return journey of the participants in the Dharm Raksha sammelan organised by the VHP today in the city and a rally by the Congress here tomorrow.

The Congress has called for a rally in protest against the acquisition of the Indira Pratishthan land by Mayavati for the expansion of the Ambedkar Udyan.

Earlier on Saturday, three persons travelling on the roof of a train were electrocuted while several others fainted due to exhaustion and weakness during the rally.

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