10 February 2013: 36 people were killed in the Kumbh stampede


The Kumbh mela, a major religious festival for Hindus, is held in four places in India every years on rotation basis. However, some such festivals have got associated with various types of mishaps. The Maha Kumbh Mela of Allahabad which took place in 2013 is remembered for a mass stampede leading to the death of 36 pilgrims. Ironically, the accident happened on the most auspicious day of Kumbh, called the Mauni Amavasya.

On 10 February 2013, an estimated 30 million people reached Allahabad to bathe at the holy confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganges. A maddening stampede happened at the Allahabad railway station, which took 36 lives, while leaving many more seriously injured. The mishap marred the auspiciousness of the 55-day-long Hindu festival in Uttar Pradesh in northern India.

How it happened

There are conflicting views on how the stampede took place at the railway station. The local officials maintain that owing to overcrowding, the railings on railway Station Bridge gave in, which led to panicking and the stampede. However, eyewitnesses disagree, saying that the Police had resorted to baton-charging the crowd, which made them panic and led to the tragedy. There were 9 men, 26 women and 1 child among the dead. Some of the stampede victims died on the spot while 14 died after being hospitalised.

The station, which has a maximum capacity of 40,000 people, was thronged by millions, according to the administration. The stampede took place at the station’s platforms 5 and 6 at about 7 p.m. The victims were largely Maha Kumbh devotees heading home after taking the holy dip. Eyewitnesses and survivors said that the lackluster crowd management and sudden change of platform for the train eventually led to the stampede.

Picture of mayhem at the station

After the mishap, the scene at Allahabad station was chaotic and full of turmoil. Heaps of slippers, torn bags, and many other belongings were seen scattered at the station and near the foot-over bridge after the event. Injured pilgrims were carried away on stretchers and in ambulances. Several relatives of injured alleged that emergency services were late in reaching the venue. Worse, an eight-year-old girl succumbed to death allegedly because the doctors took too long to reach the spot. This view was echoed by several pilgrims and locals.

Aftermath of the tragedy

Sheer chaos prevailed in Allahabad city after the mass stampede and resultant casualties. The relatives of the dead and the injured ran frantically for information and updates at the Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital, the Beli hospital and the administrative centres. As expected, the cops and administrative heads in Allahabad faced flak and public fury post the stampede. The officials had a harrowing time consoling the relatives of the dead and injured, assuring them about treatment and relief.

Political Reactions after the Kumbh Stampede

The political bigwigs, both at state and central levels, were quick to respond after the mass stampede at Allahabad. The then Railway Minister P.K. Bansal announced compensation worth Rs. 1 lakh for family of those who died in the mishap. Families of the injured were also liable to compensation. The rail ministry pressed more trains to service to clear the rush of pilgrims at Allahabad post the disaster.

Taking moral liability for the tragedy, Mohammad Azam Khan , then UP cabinet minister and Kumbh Mela  in charge, resigned. The PM of India, Manmohan Singh, expressed his condolence for the mishap. The CM of UP, Akhilesh Yadav, announced the formation of a committee to look into the roots of the tragedy.

History of stampedes in Kumbh Mela

The mishap that claimed 36 lives on the fateful evening of 10 Feb 2013 was not the first such incident in history of Kumbh mela. On 3 February 1954, another Kumbh Mela stampede in Allahabad had left 1,000 dead. In the 2003 Kumbh mela in Nasik, 39 lost their lives. The 2010 Haridwar Kumbh Mela saw a stampede which took 7 lives.

 

Also on this day:

10 February 1931 - New Delhi became capital of India

10 February 1957 - Pranab Roy, Indian cricketer, was born

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