Hathras Stampede Report: Overcrowding Blamed for 121 Deaths, SIT Submits Findings

Lucknow, 9th July 2024: The stampede at a ‘Satsang’ in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, which claimed 121 lives, was primarily caused by overcrowding, according to a report submitted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to the Yogi Adityanath government.

The report, compiled by Additional Director General of Police (Agra) Anupam Kulshreshtha and Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chaitra V, includes statements from 128 witnesses, including police personnel present at the ‘Satsang’ of Narayan Sakar Hari, known as ‘Bhole Baba’. It has been forwarded to the state Home Department, and Chief Minister Adityanath will review it today.

While specifics are awaited, initial reports suggest that the SIT indicated the possibility that the self-styled godman and his associates could have prevented the tragedy.

Previously, the FIR related to the incident mentioned that the organizers sought permission for around 80,000 attendees, but the gathering swelled to approximately 2.5 lakh people. Nine individuals, including the main organizer Devprakash Madhukar, have been arrested in connection with the July 2 event.

The self-styled godman, Narayan Sakar Hari, has not been named as an accused in the FIR and remains at large since the stampede. His lawyer, AP Singh, issued a statement asserting the preacher’s willingness to cooperate with investigators and raised concerns about a conspiracy, suggesting that unidentified persons had dispersed poison at the event, triggering the stampede.

Senior police officer Anupam Kulshreshtha previously indicated that while the investigation has not ruled out the conspiracy angle, current evidence points towards the culpability of the event organizers.

Reports indicate that the stampede occurred when followers rushed to collect dust stirred by the godman’s car as he departed. According to the subdivisional magistrate’s report, the godman’s security personnel began pushing the crowd, resulting in people falling and being trampled. In the ensuing chaos, many fled towards an open field, leading to further injuries.

Following the incident, Chief Minister Adityanath pledged stringent action while acknowledging the possibility of a conspiracy. He stated, “If this wasn’t an accident, then whose conspiracy is it? All aspects will be thoroughly investigated.” Apart from the SIT, a judicial panel led by a retired high court judge is also investigating the stampede.