The toll in the stampede on an overcrowded bridge on Varanasi-Chandauli border rose to 25 with one more person succumbing to injuries in a hospital today, even as Samajwai Party government faced fresh opposition salvos over the incident. District Magistrate Kumar Prashant told reporters here that the stampede claimed 25 lives. While 24 deaths were reported yesterday, one more died in hospital this morning. Of the deceased, 20 were women, police said.
The incident took place in Ramnagar police station area of Varanasi when thousands of followers of Jai Gurudev were crossing the Rajghat bridge for proceeding towards Domri village in Chandauli for a two-day congregation that concluded today under the shadow of gloom.
President Pranab Mukherjee expressed condolences over the loss of lives in the stampede and called upon the authorities to provide all assistance and help to the victims.
In his message to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, he said, “I am sad to learn about the stampede in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in which a number of persons have lost their lives and others are injured. I understand relief and rescue operations are currently underway.
“I call upon the state government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured,” he said.
As opposition parties held the state government and local administration “responsible” for the incident, BJP today fired a fresh salvo with Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya blaming the Akhilesh Yadav government for “failing to take lessons from similar mishaps in the state earlier” and demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident.
“The state government has to take complete responsibility for the incident. It is a total failure on its part. The state government has not learned any lessons from the previous stampedes that occurred in 2010 at Pratapgarh in which 63 people died and during 2013 Kumbh Mela in Allahabad which claimed 36 lives,” Dattatreya said.
“The state government cannot wash off its hands by suspending few police officials from the duty,” he said after meeting the injured in Varanasi.