Crush at India religious event kills more than 120, mostly women

In New Delhi, a crowd crush at a religious gathering in Mughal Garhi village in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, resulted in the death of more than 100 people, mostly women, on Tuesday, March 14th. The disaster occurred at a prayer meeting, known as a satsang, where an estimated 80,000 people were expected, but over 250,000 devotees gathered, according to a police report. Many of the victims fell into an open sewer next to the venue.

Investigators are pursuing Bhole Baba, the self-styled godman who led the event. The police have accused the event’s organizers of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, wrongfully restraining a person, causing disappearance of evidence or providing false information. The organizers are alleged to have exceeded permitted attendance levels, failed to comply with district requirements, and provided no assistance to the injured.

The deadly scenes unfolded after the event had finished, when Bhole Baba’s devotees rushed toward the stage to touch his feet, leading to a crush. About 72 bodies have been identified so far, and dozens of injured people are being treated in nearby hospitals.

Local officials have suggested overcrowding was the cause of the crush. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, expressed his condolences and assured that the government is conducting “relief and rescue work” and is coordinating with the state government. The victims will be helped in every way, he said.

Crowd crushes at religious gatherings in India are not uncommon, and deadly incidents have made headlines in the past, highlighting the lack of adequate crowd control and safety measures.

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