Lack of proper Crowd Management Plan led to Kumbh Mela Stampede last year: Panel

लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO):  The one-member judicial commission appointed by the Akhilesh Yadav government to probe the circumstances leading to the stampede at the Allahabad railway station during the Mahakumbh celebrations in 2013 has indicted the railway authorities for gross mismanagement in the handling the crowd – mostly pilgrims — at the railway station premises and railway foot over bridges at platform number four and six. The stampede had claimed 38 lives and left 47 injured.

The report by the judicial commission headed by Justice (Retd) Onkareshwarnath Bhatt was submitted to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik on Thursday. The Governor is expected to review the report before taking a decision to whether to act on it or recommend action to the state and the Centre. The state government had appointed the commission on February 17 last year and had given three months’ time to complete the findings on the circumstances leading to the stampede and submit its report.

The mandate of the commission was limited to probing the stampede within the “premises of the Allahabad junction railway station” and not beyond it despite the facts that there were reports of stampede at the mela site also before the major incident at the railway station of Allahabad. But it has not been probed .

Highly placed sources told that Bhatt Commission has primarily found a number of irregularities –

*That the crowd was beyond expectation of ailway authorities

* Allahabad railway station had turned into a sea of humanity and railway and the GRP personnel were outnumbered by the swelling crowds

* The railway foot overbridge at platform number four and six should have been one-way to avoid intermingling of the crowd. This was the main cause of the stampede. The deaths took place at the platform number four and six railway foot overbridge.

* On the railway foot overbridge, people began pushing each other, leading to the stampede.

* Medical facilities proved to be inadequate

* The surging crowd of pilgrims chose to catch trains, despite substantial presence of fleet of UPSRTC buses, to reach their destination from where they had traveled to participate in the Mahakumbh

The sudden stampede took place at the Allahabad railway station on Mauni Amavasya day on February 10, the main bathing day.

Police officers, who had manned the Mahakumbh in the past, were of the opinion that the railway authorities had limited space to accommodate passengers and hence the crowd should have been released in a controlled manner.

The commission, which had its office in the circuit house in Allahabad has interrogated more than 1,000 railway, medical, police and district administration officials.

Recently, CAG had blamed the state urban development department for wasteful expenditure and poor quality of work done by it at the mela site.