Congress demands law against ‘fake’ godmen


Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Kharge asserted that the tragedy in Hathras could have been avoided….reports Asian Lite News

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has called for a law to regulate religious congregations and curb the influence of “fake” godmen, following a stampede in Uttar Pradesh that claimed 123 lives on Tuesday.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Kharge asserted that the tragedy in Hathras could have been avoided. “Karnataka and Maharashtra have enacted laws to strictly deal with the suspicious activities of fake godmen. We demand a similar law in Uttar Pradesh, which witnessed a tragic stampede on Tuesday. There should also be a statement from the home minister,” Kharge said.

The stampede occurred during a “satsang” (prayer meeting) conducted by self-proclaimed godman Narayan Sakar Hari, also known as Bhole Baba. He runs an “ashram” in Mainpuri, about 100 km from Fulrai village, where the event took place and drew at least 15,000 devotees.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Police conducted a search operation at Ram Kutir Charitable Trust in Mainpuri on Thursday for ‘Bhole Baba’.

An FIR has been registered on the incident naming organizers of the prayer meeting but ‘Bhole Baba’ has not been named yet.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mainpuri Sunil Kumar said “Baba has not been found inside the ashram.”

“There are 40-50 sevadars inside the ashram. He (‘Bhole Baba’) is not inside, neither he was yesterday nor he is today…” said DSP Mainpuri Sunil Kumar.

SP City Rahul Mithas said, “I had come to check the security of the ashram. Nobody was found here.”

The police force was deployed around the ashram today early morning.

On Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the spot and ordered a judicial probe into the incident.

A three-member Judicial Inquiry Commission under the chairmanship of Justice (retd) Brijesh Kumar Srivastava has been constituted to ensure comprehensiveness of the subject matter and transparency in the inquiry, according to an official statement.

The Judicial Commission will investigate the various aspects of the Hathras stampede in the next two months and after the investigation, a report will be submitted to the State Government.

The preacher ‘Bhole Baba’ identified as Suraj Pal is also known by the names of Narayan Sakar Hari and Jagat Guru Vishwahari.

As per the prima facie report, the devotees rushed to seek blessings and collect soil from around the preacher’s feet, but were stopped by the security personnel of ‘Bhole Baba’. Later, they started pushing one another due to which several people fell to the ground, leading to chaos at the site.

Some people ran towards the adjoining field filled with mud, due to which they fell and were crushed by other devotees, the report stated. “The injured were taken to the hospital by the police and security personnel present at the site,” it further said.

Autopsies suggest asphyxia main cause in Hathras tragedy

Asphyxia due to compression was the primary cause of death for the Hathras stampede victims brought to the district hospital in Etah, a senior doctor stated.

The hospital performed an unusually high number of autopsies following the incident, news agency PTI reported.

On Tuesday, 27 bodies were brought to the Etah district hospital’s mortuary after the stampede at Phulrai village in Hathras, with the overall death toll reaching 121. Bodies were also sent to nearby hospitals in Aligarh and other areas.

“Of the 27 bodies brought here, post-mortems for 19 were concluded, while the mortuary staff prepared for the 20th autopsy around midnight,” said Etah’s Additional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ram Mohan Tiwari. Six bodies remained unidentified.

“Asphyxia due to compression was found to be the cause of death in nearly all cases,” Tiwari noted, adding that most victims were women aged 40-50.

The hospital typically conducts four to five post-mortems daily. Tuesday’s count was significantly higher, prompting hospital staff and officials to work extended hours.

Regarding those undergoing treatment, Tiwari said four patients were admitted, with one discharged after primary aid. Two others are out of danger, and a pregnant woman is stable but still receiving treatment.

Police Circle Officer Sanjay Kumar Singh reported that 21 of the 27 bodies brought to the Etah hospital were identified by midnight. Once identified, the bodies will be handed over to families following due procedures.

The stampede, which mainly resulted in the deaths of women, occurred as the ‘satsang’ (prayer meeting) ended. Reports indicate that the stampede was triggered when people slipped in the slush while running after the preacher’s car. Tens of thousands of devotees had gathered in Phulrai village for the event.

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