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At Least 22 Killed in Allahabad Station Stampede
At least 22 people were killed and scores of others injured tonight in a stampede at Allahabad railway station teeming with thousands of pilgrims returning after a holy dip at the 'Maha Kumbh' here.

Divisional Railway Manager of Allahabad, Harindra Rao, said 10 people died at the station itself while the remaining 12 succumbed to injuries on way to hospital.

Rao also said over 20 people are undergoing treatment at the Railway Hospital and the SRN Hospital in the city and the condition of 15 of them is stated to be critical.

Earlier, a senior police officer had put the toll at 20 in the stampede that occurred at 7 PM when Platforms No 5 and 6 were packed with thousands of passengers.

Eyewitnesses said the stampede at Platform No 6 was triggered near a foot over-bridge when hundreds of passengers rushed to board a train whose arrival was being announced in a public address system. Platform No 6 was later sealed by authorities. The bodies of some of the victims shrouded in white cloth were kept at the platform for several hours.

Several eyewitnesses said there was a lathicharge by the police that compounded the panic but Divisional Railway Manager Harinder Rao claimed passengers were not baton charged and that police only attempted to regulate the movement of the crowd at the platforms by asking passengers to stand in line.

Preliminary reports said the stampede broke out when the railing leading to a footbridge collapsed but Railways Minister P K Bansal discounted such a possibility saying this had not happened.

Bansal said overcrowding at the platforms may have led to the stampede. A police officer said an estimated 4,000 people were present at one single point at the site where the stampede occurred.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the loss of lives in the tragedy and instructed Railway ministry to provide all possible assistance.

Singh also directed central government departments to extend all possible help to Uttar Pradesh government in relief operations.

The UP government ordered an inquiry into the stampede and asked the Railways to make proper arrangements to clear rush of devotees and sanctioned an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the kin of each of the dead persons.

"The state government has ordered an inquiry into the entire incident. The 'snan' at Kumbh was completed without any problem...The unfortunate incident took place at the railway station..Chief Minister AKhilesh Yadav has ordered an inquiry into the incident", SP spokesman and cabinet minister Rajendra Chowdhury told PTI. Chairman Revenue Board has been asked by the Chief Minister to inquire into the incident and submit his report to him.

Over three crore people had converged for a holy dip on the occasion of 'Mauni Amavasya' today, a day considered the most auspicious day during the 12-yearly congregation. A total of 112 trains routinely passes through Allahabad and an additional 49 special trains were being operated today.

Both the DIG Railway and the DRM have denied reports that a portion of the banister collapsed under the weight of passengers jostling for space on the over-bridge.

Following the mishap, the railways suspended movement of trains for a couple of hours to carry out the relief work.

According to sources in the railway hospital and the SRN Hospital, most of the injured, which include around 10 women, were from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who had come to the station on foot in view of the massive traffic restrictions near the Kumbh Mela site.

BJP leader Uma Bharti, who visited the accident site and later met the injured, questioned the arrangements made by Railways ahead of the religious gathering.

Meanwhile, a number of volunteers have joined the relief work and are offering assistance at the railway station, the railway hospital and the SRN Hospital.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Digression

1/D-14
Feb 11, 2013
08:57 AM

As it is emerging, the train was scheduled to be stationed at platform 4.
But the mismanagement as it is endemic in India, the train was pulled at platform 6 without prior announcement. A clear invitation to pandemonium.
As it logically should have been, there was a rush.
Adding insult to the injuries, police lathi-charged the rushing crowd.

And this all happened amidst pilgrims were robbed for 5 to 20 rupees per person special mela surcharge. Do your math, that counts for more than 100 crores of extra earning for railways.

The question is, who is accountable for this mismanagement? Who will pay for the deaths?

Santosh Gairola, Hsinchu
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