Allahabad: Frantic relatives on Monday mobbed officials seeking information about victims of stampede at the Allahabad railway station which has claimed 36 lives even as the railways had a tough time dealing with the rush of 30 million Kumbh devotees thronging the city.
There were chaotic scenes at the railway station and local hospitals in Allahabad treating the 39 injured in the tragedy with relatives running from pillar to post to get information about their near and dear ones. North Central Railways said a probe will be initiated after clearing the rush of pilgrims. “A probe will follow once we are through with ferrying pilgrims back to the places they had arrived from”, Alok Johri, general manager of the North Central Railway zone, told PTI. CMO Allahabad Dr. Prabhakar said 14 more people died during treatment, taking the death toll to 36.
The victims include 26 women, 9 men and a child. Bodies of 20 of the deceased have been identified. Taking moral responsibility for the stampede, UP cabinet minister Mohammad Azam Khan resigned as the in-charge of Kumbh Mela.
“Though the incident took place outside the Kumbh Mela premises, I take moral responsibility and resign as the in-charge of the Kumbh. I am sending my resignation to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav”, Khan told reporters in Lucknow. The stampede occurred at 7 PM on Sunday at platforms No. 5 and 6 of Allahabad Railway Station where thousands of passengers, mostly Maha Kumbh devotees returning after taking the holy dip at the Sangam on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, had gathered to board a train.
At the Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital in the city where at least 25 injured persons are admitted, some of them are in a critical condition, Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad Devesh Chaturvedi and Dr S. P. Singh, Principal of Motilal Nehru Medical College to which the hospital is attached, were mobbed by people angry over “lack of proper care and facilities”.
The officials, who had visited the hospital to take stock of the relief work, had a tough time assuaging the frayed tempers. Some of the bereaved people complained that they were being prevented from taking away the bodies of their near and dear ones.
The official requested them to “have patience till the post-mortem and other formalities” were complete. Similar scenes were witnessed at the Railway hospital, situated close to the station, where 14 others who have sustained injuries in the stampede that had occurred near platform number 6, are undergoing treatment. In Delhi, Railway Minister P. K. Bansal announced Rs.1 lakh as compensation for the families of those killed in the stampede. “We have announced Rs.1 lakh announced for the next kin of the deceased in the incident and Rs.50,000 for the grievously injured persons and Rs.25,000 for those who have suffered simple injury in the stampede,” he said.
About the arrangement, he said 220 trains were arranged for the occasion besides 212 regular trains which pass through Allahabad and adjoining stations. “There are enclosures made for catering to the passengers for 220 special trains. Now we are pressing more trains to clear the rush,” he said. “There are three more holy baths in the coming days. We have to strengthen the arrangement,” he said.