Lucknow, March 5 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Friday lodged a case against unnamed organisers of the ‘bhandara’ (free lunch) at an ashram Thursday, when a stampede triggered by unmanageable crowds left 63 people, mostly women and children, dead and 64 injured. The name of the ashram also does not figure in the complaint.
The name of spiritual guru Kripaluji Maharaj, the founder of Bhakti Dham in Mangarh village near Kunda town of Pratapgarh district, does not figure in the first information report. The feast, to mark the death anniversary of the guru’s wife, had drawn thousands of poor devotees due to the announcement that along with food, some cash and two utensils would also be given.
‘The ashram head was not around when the tragedy took place,’ claimed the ashram’s employees, though eyewitnesses alleged that he had managed to slip away shortly after the disaster only to return Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Brij Lal told mediapersons here Friday evening that the FIR was lodged under section 304 A (death due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
The stampede victims, who had come from half a dozen villages falling within a radius of 2-4 km of the ashram in Pratapgarh district, 160 km from here, essentially belonged to families living below the poverty line. The last rites of 47 victims were performed in their respective villages earlier in the day.
The state government, however, has no plans to offer any monetary compensation to the next of kin of those who died or were injured in the incident.
‘We will provide every assistance to the families of victims and ensure that they were suitably rehabilitated, but, so far, we do not intend to give them any monetary compensation,’ an official spokesman said here.
The central government has announced a compensation of Rs.200,000 to the families of each of the victims.