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‘Can Still Hear Cries of Women & Kids’: When Locals Turned Saviours for Hathras Stampede Survivors – News18

‘Can Still Hear Cries of Women & Kids’: When Locals Turned Saviours for Hathras Stampede Survivors – News18


People injured in the Hathras stampede being treated. Over 120 people were killed in the tragedy. (PTI)

According to the latest list released by the Relief Commissioner’s Office in Lucknow, 121 persons died and 31 were injured in the stampede at Bhole Baba’s congregation in UP

July 2 will forever be etched in Shyam Brijesh’s memory. When 40 constables deployed to man the crowd of 2.5 lakh devotees at godman Narayan Saakar Vishwa Hari’s ‘satsang’ were struggling to handle the crowd, it was youths like Brijesh from neighbouring Barai Sahaipur, Bamanhar Gadai, Mughalgarhi, Kheria, Nagla Bhage and other villages who took it upon themselves to save those stuck in the stampede that killed 121 people.

Brijesh, who hails from neighbouring Barai Sahaipur village and was one of the first rescuers to reach the spot, defined the stampede as “one of the most dreadful sights of my life”.

“It has been almost 48 hours and I can still hear the shrieks and cries of women and children who literally begged people to get off them and let them breathe. It was the most horrible site I ever came across. Baba, organisers and all those who were part of the event should be penalised,” he said.

For Brijesh, the day of the ‘satsang’ was like any other. “As usual, I woke up early morning and after completing the daily chores, I left for the field which is situated around 300 meters away from the site of the congregation,” he told News18.

It was a humid day as heavy rainfall had lashed the district a day before and most of the farmers had returned to their houses after working in their fields while listening to Bhole Baba’s sermons being played on loudspeakers, he said.

“It was around 2 or 2.15pm when I first heard a shriek, which soon faded amidst the sound of bhajans and the noise of heavy traffic on the adjacent GT road. But, the cries and yells soon grew louder and louder, enough to suppress the sound of the bhajans,” Brijesh said.

As he ran towards the satsang site, his friends Rajkumar, Vikas and others rushed with him to take stock of the situation.

“When we reached the site, private commandos dressed in black tried to shove us away. We breached their line and were exposed to the deadliest sight of my life. Near the exit, a pit was filled with the bodies of women and children who might have slipped due to the slippery ground when Baba’s army prevented them from exiting,” recalled Brijesh.

Brijesh’s friend Rajkumar said they soon came to their senses and started the rescue work by clearing the pit first.

“The bodies were slippery as they were laced with mud. Somehow, we managed to take them out one by one. Meanwhile, Vikas rushed to GT Road to seek help. Soon we were joined by truckers, drivers and other locals who parked their vehicles and came down to the site to rescue people. Of the people we took out from the pit, many did not respond. However, those who were alive, were rushed to the hospital with the help of local vehicles,” he added.

Other than clearing the pit, Brijesh and others also rescued many other people who were gasping for fresh air, many unable to breathe since their nostrils and mouths were full of mud.

“I don’t think we did anything extraordinary. I think every human being should come forward to help people in need, especially in such circumstances. I appeal to our Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-ji to take stern action against the Baba and others whose negligence cost many people their lives,” Shyam Kumar, another local, added.

Locals said the rescue operation lasted for almost two hours before the team of district administration and police force arrived at the site to help out.

The FIR, which UP Police registered against 22 — including the Sewadaars and other organisers — states: “Due to the uncontrollable crowd leaving the venue, devotees sitting on the ground were crushed. On the other side of the road, the crowd running in the water and mud-filled fields was forcibly stopped by the organising members with sticks. The police and administrative officials on the spot made every possible effort and sent the injured people to the hospital with the available resources. But the organizers didn’t cooperate.”

According to the latest list released by the Relief Commissioner’s Office in Lucknow, 121 persons died and 31 were injured in the Hathras stampede.



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