Panel Blames Railway for Stampede During Maha Kumbh

Judicial panel probing the last year's stampede at a railway station in Allahabad during Maha Kumbh, which left 38 pilgrims dead, has put railway in the dock on several counts.

The one-member judicial inquiry commission also blamed Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, Allahabad administration and police for failing in crowd management, which led to the stampede.

On August 14, Justice (retired) Omkareshwar Bhatt had submitted his report with Governor Ram Naik, who has directed that it be sent to UP government and the Centre, an official spokesman said.

Naik also said that in the wake of next Kumbh at Nasik in Maharashtra, a copy must be send to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

A total of 38 pilgrims were killed and 47 others injured during the stampede at Allahabad railway station on February 10, 2013 on a day of holy bath on 'Mauni Amavashya'.

The one-member judicial inquiry commission has concluded that the railway did not make a clear assessment of the number of passengers for which arrangement of transportation had to be made on the occasion of 'Mauni Amavasya'.

It said that inadequate number of trains were pressed into service to transport the crowd from the railway station to different cities.

"Though, it was announced to operate one mela special train at every half-an-hour, it was not followed at all and trains were running late by two to four hours," the report said. 

The report said that trains were not stationed at designated platforms which led to chaos and stampede among the passengers.

To manage the crowd, enclosures were made but they were already full, and proper and time-bound management for passengers retained in the enclosures was not in place.

The commission said that proper implementation of the arrangement of crowd diversion made by police and local administration was not ensured.

The report also said that arrangement of 'one way' for movement of crowd at overbridges at railway station was not made which led to stampede.

The report said that over-bridge number three was reserved for emergency situation, but it was not opened for the movement of the pilgrims at the time of accident.

It also criticised the UPSRTC for plying inadequate buses.

UPSRTC was given the responsibility of pressing 6,000 buses in service, which was not done as expected as a result the entire pressure of the crowd was transferred on the railway stations.

The former judge said that shortcoming mentioned in the report should be avoided in future to check recurrence of such accident.

He said that in future, instead of running mela specials from Allahabad railway station, they should be operated from nearby stations so that crowd does not assemble at one place.

The Governor has said that the report should be send to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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