Seven Kanwarias were killed in three separate road accidents on Tuesday, leading to violent protests by fellow pilgrims in two of the three spots, which held up traffic for hours. One more kanwaria was mowed down by a police jeep racing to control the protests.
Three kanwarias, all minors, were killed near Oonj, on the Allahabad-Varanasi highway in Uttar Pradesh, while a fourth was hit by a police jeep as it neared the spot. In addition, two kanwarias each were crushed to death at Manesar in Haryana and at Kotputli in Rajasthan, both on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. In all three cases, the culprits were speeding trucks.
At both Varanasi and Manesar, enraged kanwarias set cars ablaze and blocked traffic for hours. At Manesar, a mild police charge proved sufficient to disperse the crowd, but at Oonj, the police resorted to firing.
The Manesar tragedy occurred around 6.45 am. “It happened because two trucks were racing each other,” said Titu Singh, an eyewitness. The dead have been identified as Kishan and Lilu. Three more were badly injured, and have been hospitalised.
The Gurgaon administration announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the families of those killed.
Kanwarias are Shiva worshippers who, during the month of Shravana (July-August), collect water from the Ganga and travel long distances on foot to Shiva temples to offer it to the deity.