Kumbh stampede: "Centre, state responsible"

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 13:16 hrs

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said both the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government were 'responsible' for the stampede at Allahabad railway station last night that killed at least 38 people.

"We pay our homage to all those who are dead and pray for early recovery for those who are injured...Both the Centre and the state government are responsible for it," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said while addressing a press conference on Monday.

"Stop this 'tu-tu-mein-mein' (mudslinging) and take responsibility," he said.

The death toll in the stampede at the Allahabad railway station on Sunday has touched 38 on Monday. Several others were injured in the mishap.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Mohammad Azam Khan on Monday took moral responsibility of the incident and resigned as the head of the Kumbh Mela Management Committee.

Speaking to reporters, Khan said: "Though the incident took place outside the Kumbh Mela premises, I take the responsibility of the fiasco and resign as the in-charge of the Kumbh."

He said: "I am sending my resignation to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav."

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said he will go to Allahabad on Monday to ´see the situation´.

"I am going to Allahabad to see the situation and the preparations for the coming days as three more dips are scheduled in the coming days," Bansal told reporters.

"There has been no collapse of foot-over-bridge or any railing on the station. I want to clear that stampede occurred due to people reaching in large numbers. We had made arrangements before start of the Kumbh. We have come to know that people turned in large numbers resulting in stampede," he said.

He said: "I still believe our arrangements were adequate."

Announcing compensations, Bansal said: "We have announced Rs 1 lakh for the next kin of the deceased in the incident and Rs 50,000 for grievously injured persons and Rs 25,000 for those who have suffered simple injury in the stampede."

Earlier reports said, the stampede took place on a footbridge between platforms 5 and 6.

Most people present at the station during that time were devotees who had come to take a holy dip at the Maha Kumbh mela on the occasion of ´Mauni Amavasya´.

Reports quoting eyewitnesses said the stampede was triggered by a baton-charge by the police, but the authorities denied it.

There were also complaints of the authorities responding very late to the crisis. Only one doctor was reportedly attending to the injured at the station and the police took hours to remove the bodies from the station. Some of the dead are yet to be identified.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock following the accident.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery. I have issued instructions to ministry of Railways to provide all necessary assistance to the affected persons," said Singh.

"My government assures an ex-gratia payment to the families of those who have lost their dear ones and to those who are injured from the Prime Minister`s Relief Fund. The Central government will extend all possible help to the state government in relief operations," he said.

The Uttar Pradesh government has declared a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the families of the dead. It had also ordered an inquiry into the incident.

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