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SIT pins Hathras stampede blame on satsang organisers & local admin, UP govt suspends 6 officials

SIT, which hasn't ruled out conspiracy, hasn't blamed Bhole Baba in its report. BSP's Mayawati says there's 'an attempt to give him clean chit'. Suspended officials include Sikandrarao SDM.

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Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has suspended at least two administration officials, including a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), and four local policemen, after the special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe last Tuesday’s stampede in Hathras concluded that the organisers and administration were responsible for the tragedy that claimed over 120 lives.

The SIT found that while the organisers had obtained permission for the satsang of Bhole Baba alias Narayan Sakar Hari “by concealing facts” and fled the venue after the stampede, the SDM gave permission for the event without inspecting the site, a statement from the government said Tuesday. It detailed the findings of the SIT’s report.

The SIT comprised Additional Director General of Police (Agra zone) Anupam Kulshreshtha and Divisional Commissioner (Aligarh) Chaitra V.

The team inspected the stampede site on 2, 3 and 5 July and took statements from 125 individuals, including administrative and police officials, locals and witnesses. Further, news articles related to the incident, on-site videography, photographs and video clippings were reviewed, according to the government.

The SIT has held the organisers primarily responsible for the incident based on witness accounts and other evidence.

“The investigation committee has found the programme organiser and tehsil-level police and administration guilty. The local SDM, tehsildar, circle officer, inspector and chowki in-charges have been held responsible for negligence in performing their duties,” the statement added.

In an X post Wednesday morning, BSP chief Mayawati attacked the government over the SIT’s silence on Bhole Baba’s role and remarked that rather than taking a strict action against him, there was an attempt to give him a clean chit in the report submitted by the SIT to the government.

“The painful death of 121 innocent women and children in the Hathras satsang stampede is a live example of negligence on the part of the government, but the report presented to the government by the SIT seems to be politically motivated and not according to the seriousness of the incident which is extremely sad. The silence of the SIT on the role of the main organiser of this extremely deadly incident, Bhole Baba, is also concerning for the public. Also, it has become a subject of discussion that rather than taking a strict action against him, there is an attempt to give him a clean chit. The government should definitely pay attention so that such incidents are not repeated.”

Also Read: ‘People died in similar stampede at same godman’s satsang in our village 12 yrs ago’ — Hathras residents

‘SDM granted permission without inspecting site’ 

Recommending action against the officials concerned, the SIT has said in its report submitted Tuesday that the satsang programme was not taken seriously by the local officials, and senior officials were not even informed about the event.

The Sikandrarao SDM granted permission for the event without inspecting the venue and did not inform senior officials. These officials did not take the programme seriously, according to the government statement.

Soon after receiving the report, the government suspended the SDM and tehsildar of Sikandrarao, along with the circle officer supervising the area, the station officer of Sikandrarao police station and the chowki in-charges of the Kachora and Pora police posts.

‘Crowd was uncontrolled, organisers fled scene’

According to the SIT, people associated with the organising committee of the satsang were guilty of “spreading chaos” and the committee added members without verification who were responsible for contributing to the disorder at the spot when Bhole Baba’s convoy was leaving.

It has been widely reported that the stampede occurred after a crowd of followers of the self-styled godman went after his convoy, with women attempting to collect the soil from the path made by his car.

“Individuals added by the committee without proper police verification contributed to the disorder. The organising committee misbehaved with the police and attempted to prevent the local police from inspecting the programme venue,” the SIT has said.

Further, performers at the satsang and members of the public were allowed to mingle without any security arrangements.

The SIT said that despite the huge crowd, no barricading or passage arrangements were made, and when the stampede occurred, members of the organising committee fled from the scene.

The organising committee members did not make adequate and smooth arrangements despite an unexpected crowd, nor did they comply with the conditions set by the local administration for the programme, the government statement on the SIT report said.

It added that a conspiracy could not be ruled out and has recommended an in-depth investigation into the stampede.

Meanwhile, a three-member judicial commission constituted on 3 July to probe the reasons behind and circumstances leading to the incident has also started its proceedings.

The commission will probe whether the organisers complied with the conditions set for granting permission for the event by the district administration, whether the stampede was an accident or conspiracy or the result of another planned criminal act, and look into the arrangements made by the administration and police for crowd control and law and order during the event.

Chaired by retired Allahabad High Court judge Brijesh Kumar Srivastava, the commission also includes retired IAS officer Hemant Rao and retired IPS officer Bhavesh Kumar Singh.

The commission had inspected the site Saturday, following which Justice Srivastava had remarked to the media that the team observed exit points at the venue and would speak to all those required.

The commission has to submit its report to the UP government within two months.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also Read: How Hathras stampede has destroyed families & shaken faith. ‘If Baba is God, why didn’t he save them?’

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