18 killed in stampede ahead of Bohra leader’s funeral in Mumbai

As news of the stampede deaths came in, Mumbai Police Commissioner urged the Syedna’s followers to stay home.

Mumbai | Updated: January 19, 2014 10:09 am
Lakhs of followers joined the final journey of the spiritual leader, who was laid to rest at Raudat Tahera mausoleum here at Bhendi Bazar. (IE Photo: Prashant Nadkar) Lakhs of followers joined the final journey of the spiritual leader, who was laid to rest at Raudat Tahera mausoleum Mumbai at Bhendi Bazar. (IE Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

Ahead of the funeral of Dawoodi Bohra spiritual leader Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin in Mumbai, a stampede broke out near his residence Saifee Mahal, Malabar Hill, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, killing 18 people and leaving at least 46 injured.

The worst such tragedy in the metropolis showed complete lack of coordination between Mumbai police and Bohra community leaders. The police also appeared to have grossly underestimated the turnout of those seeking to pay their last respects. Those killed in the stampede included two minors and five senior citizens.

However, police said the stampede broke out as community leaders closed the gates of the Syedna’s residence, located in a narrow lane, causing people gathered outside to rush to get in. The incident happened around 1.30 am, shortly after community leaders announced that the gates would be closed.

 
As news of the stampede deaths came in, Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh urged the Syedna’s followers to stay home. “I have ordered an inquiry to ascertain as to what exactly happened late last night. I appeal to the people to take glimpse of Dr Syedna on television and not come on the roads.”
 
But till late afternoon on Saturday, people were still coming in, with roads leading to Bhendi Bazaar lined with vehicles that had ferried people from other states. The total number of followers at the funeral is estimated to have been over three lakh. The 102-year-old Syedna died suddenly following a cardiac arrest on Friday morning.
 
The officers in-charge of the area said Dawoodi Bohra leaders had not given them an idea of the numbers estimated to come. DCP, Zone II, Nisar Tamboli said a case of accidental death had been registered at the Malabar Hill police station.
 
“At the time of the incident, there were more than 60,000 people near the Syedna’s home,” Tamboli said. “The lack of a proper dispersal system led to the stampede.” Police officers said they had been told by community leaders that around 2,000 to 5,000 people would turn up.
 
Qureish Raghib, a spokesperson for the community, admitted they had not expected such a huge crowd.
 
“The gates to the Syedna’s residence were suddenly closed and people got very emotional. That created a lot of confusion. The lanes in Malabar Hill are very narrow and when the stampede broke out, there was little space for movement,” said Quaid Najmi, a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
 
“There were merely 100-200 policemen in the area and the crowd kept increasing,” said a 19-year-old follower, who was present at the spot of the stampede.
 
Huzefa Rangwala, who had come from Indore, said, “In an attempt to get a glimpse of the Syedna, people started climbing on the main gates. Several fell and commotion ensued.”
 
While 41 people injured in the stampede were discharged on Saturday, five are still at Saifee Hospital. “The cause of death is asphyxiation in most cases. Several were run over by other people and sustained injuries in the chest,” said a source at JJ Hospital, where the dead were taken for postmortem.

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  1. A
    Ariel
    Jan 20, 2014 at 7:26 am
    How can the police be held responsible for this incident? Will anybody in his proper frame of mind go at an unearthly hour to pay his or her last respects to a departed soul? Secondly there is an allegation that very few policemen were deplo. Where is the space to deploy a large posse of policemen near Saifee House? The organisation which sent the sms asking followers to come to have a final deedar should be held responsible for this tragedy.
    Reply
    1. M
      manly
      Jan 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm
      so will the police file a murder case against Dawoodi Bohra community ???
      Reply
      1. A
        AnilG
        Jan 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm
        Sad. Condolences to the families. Hope for a speedy recovery for those injured.
        Reply
        1. G
          guest
          Jan 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm
          Thats sad
          Reply
          1. D
            Debaiter
            Jan 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm
            If you so much hate India, Why the heck do you care bout reading its news and even more, comment on it?I sense you are jealous of India.
            Reply
            1. D
              Debaiter
              Jan 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm
              Why would you bring up the topic of family planning in this context.Daawodi bohras has the smallest of families and are in fact the smallest of religious group around the w world.I really wonder if your religious leader provide any family planning advice.
              Reply
              1. M
                Mike Duffy
                Jan 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm
                India, what a waste. Subcontinent of subhumans.
                Reply
                1. R
                  Rajvir
                  Jan 19, 2014 at 1:10 am
                  Baba took 18 with him, not a nice thing for him to do...
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    remmelkemp
                    Jan 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm
                    Keep distance. Saves life.
                    Reply
                    1. D
                      Donald Schuster
                      Jan 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm
                      Typical obama voters
                      Reply
                      1. C
                        Citizen
                        Jan 18, 2014 at 10:31 pm
                        Most unfortunate and my condolences to all those bereaved families. Even after seeing all these man made deaths like this , on roads, due to disease , malnutrition, natural calamities that are caused by over utilization of natural resources etc would the religious leaders/politicians advice the society/followers to adopt modern family planning methods to decongest the globe so that future gen can lead a happy,healthy and prolonged lives with better living conditions. Jaihind
                        Reply
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