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Hathras Stampede: 121 Dead; What Happened at Satsang? Who is 'Bhole Baba'?

Most of the devotees present at the satsang were women, said Additional Director General (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha.

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Producer :Jaspreet Singh
Producer :Aakriti Handa
Video Editor :Purnendu Pritam

At least 121 people have reportedly died, and several others have been injured, in a stampede that took place on Tuesday, 2 July at a religious function in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras district. The tragedy took place at a satsang at Fulrai-Mughalgarhi village close to the border between Hathras and Etah districts.

Briefing the media about what happened, Hathras District Magistrate Ashish Kumar said,

"There was a function by a Baba (religious leader). When the event was finishing, we are being told that people began rushing out due to suffocation and this caused the stampede".

"Till now, 116 people deaths have been confirmed, out of which 27 dead bodies are in the Etah mortuary, and the rest are in Hathras," IG Shalabh Mathur told the media on Tuesday evening. A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against at Sikandra Rao police station in Hathras district against the chief organiser Devprakash Madhukar and other organisers under various sections of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, including:

  • 105 (Culpable homicide not amounting to murder),

  • 110 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide),

  • 126 (2) (Wrongful restraint),

  • 223 (Disobedience to order promulgated by public servant),

  • 238 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence)

Most of the devotees present at the satsang were women, said Additional Director General (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha.

Police personnel outside a hospital where victims of the Hathras stampede are admitted in Etah.

(Photo: PTI)

Most of the devotees present were women, according to Additional Director General (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha.

The 'Baba' has been identified as Sakar Vishwa Hari 'Bhole Baba'. However, he has not been named in the FIR.

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What Do Eyewitnesses Say?

"I had come for Bhole Baba's sangat (gathering). People were coming out after the satsang, but they were unable to get out of the venue. The things started falling on us. Then some of the people started hitting us with sticks, making people run in panic," said Shreema, a resident of Etmadpur, who lost two of her relatives in the stampede.

Krishna, who came from near Uttar Pradesh's Tundla, recounted, "The people didn't move from the entrance so people couldn't get out. In the confusion, a 'wire broke'. Some people died due to the current and some were crushed by the crowd."

Suresh Chandra, who had come all the way from Pilibhit, said that there may have been about 50,000 people at the function.

"The main gate was put up at the highway. That's where the confusion happened as some devotees went in one direction and some in the other. In that confusion, people fell and got crushed. Many fell on the road," he recounted.

What Do the Authorities Say?

"The organisation had secured permission for a 'satsang'. Adequate police arrangements were also made. The probe on ground will ascertain the cause of the stampede," UP DGP Prashant Kumar told The Quint. As per sources, a team headed by Divisional Commissioner (Aligarh) Ashish Kumar and Additional Director General (Agra) Kulshreshtha has been constituted to look into the causes of the incident.

The UP police also provided a list of 70 police personnel who had been posted at the venue.

Both ADG Kulshreshtha and DM Kumar said that the exact cause of the stampede will be clear after the inquiry is conducted.

Most of the devotees present at the satsang were women, said Additional Director General (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha.

Relatives outside a hospital where victims of the Hathras stampede are admitted in Etah.

(Photo: PTI)

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Who Were the Organisers?

According to a report in TV9 Hindi, 'Bhole Baba' was in the police, but he quit the job and became a religious leader 26 years ago. His first gathering is said to have taken place in Patiyali in Kasganj district. Since then, his following multiplied manifold.

The Baba's main area of influence is western UP, and according to reports, many of his followers are from the Valmiki and Jatav Dalit communities and other oppressed castes. He also has some influence in parts of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and eastern Rajasthan.

Most of the devotees present at the satsang were women, said Additional Director General (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha.

'Bhole Baba' was in the police, but he quit the job and became a religious leader 26 years ago.

(Sourced by The Quint)

In January 2020, a stampede had taken place during Bhole Baba's satsang in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur after a fire broke out during prasad distribution. Fortunately, a major incident was averted after the fire rescue team arrived promptly.

During the COVID-19 wave, the Baba's organisation had faced flak for holding a satsang in Farrukhabad district in violation of the pandemic protocols. Despite permission being given for just 50 people, thousands had landed up at the satsang.

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Producer :Jaspreet Singh
Producer :Aakriti Handa
Video Editor :Purnendu Pritam
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