Ashram doles out damages to kin of stampede victims

Mangarh, (Pratapgarh), March 7 (IANS) Spiritual guru Kripaluji Maharaj’s Bhakti Dham Ashram, where 63 people lost their lives and 64 were injured Thursday in one of the worst stampedes, Sunday doled out a lakh rupees each to the families of the dead and Rs.50,000 to each of the injured.

‘We have given a cheque of Rs.63 lakh in the name of Pratapgarh district magistrate for distribution to the next of kin of those killed, together with another cheque of Rs.32 lakh towards those injured,’ ashram spokesman Muktanand told reporters at the ashram here.

Kripaluji Maharaj, who made his first public appearance after the incident at the press meet, however, chose not to utter a single word. Arriving at the ashram hall on a wheelchair, he stood beside Muktanand and declined to say anything.

Reading out a statement, Muktanand said: ‘Besides the monetary compensation, the ashram will also take care of the education of the children of the deceased and provide free life-long medical care to the families of the victims.’

Asked why the ashram chief preferred to give the money to the district magistrate when he could have handed over the same individually, the spokesman said: ‘It was only to ensure that the money goes to the correct people.’

A preliminary probe into the stampede Saturday blamed the ashram management for the disaster, saying the ashram failed to estimate the number of people who would gather and didn’t even put up a public address system to handle the crowd.

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