Those who saw the horrific stampede at the railway station blamed mismanagement of the huge rush of passengers for the tragedy. Ramji, a resident of Faizabad, was at platform 6 when the first stampede broke out.
He said that the crowd of devotees unexpectedly increased after 5pm and all the platforms and footover bridges (FOBs) became jam-packed. According to him, there was no space to even move one step on the FOB where the tragedy occurred. Suddenly, some people fell from the FOB onto the platform, creating panic among passengers which soon resulted in a frantic stampede.
Another eyewitness, Shyam Pandey from Surat, said that the incident was the result of huge rush and mismanagement on the part of railway authorities.
He said that the GRP and RPF men failed to control the huge rush of crowd that i ncreased suddenly after 5pm at all the platforms of Allahabad Junction.
Pandey said he was standing at platform 4 when the tragedy occurred. “When passengers including women and children came to know about the incident they started screaming and many of them ran towards the spot. The situation became out of control,” he said.
Gillo, who had come from Delhi, was injured in the stampede. He was critical of the lackadaisical approach of the railway authorities. Rajni, sister of Babita (resident of Delhi) who died in the stampede, lambasted the railway authorities for failing to ensure the safety and security of passengers. Resident of Buxar, Chotey Lal, 68, whose wife Urmila, 65, died in the stampede and who himself was severely injured, was barely able to speak but described his experience as traumatic. “There was sudden darkness before my eyes and when I regained a little consciousness, I found myself being carried on a stretcher and my wife missing.” He could not say how it all happened.
The mismanagement of railway officials was evident in the way they allowed entry into the station from both the sides, which resulted in FOBs blocking each other’s way and causing a jam. Railway officials late in the night claimed that there had been only one incident of stampede and not two.
LOCALS LEND A HELPING HAND
Residents living in the vicinity of Allahabad junction station came out in the night as good Samaritans.
They spread bed sheets in front of their houses, made the tragedy-stricken people sit and got busy preparing food for them. ‘Do not worry, we will look after you all’, was what they told those whose near and dear ones had either died or were injured.
Inside, GRP and railway authorities closed all entry gates at the station to stop more passengers from coming in because of choc-o-block situation .
Outside, thousands of residents living in the old city gathered to know more. They were critical of the police authorities. “These cops behave so roughly even during such situations,” was what they were heard saying. But the onlookers were ready to offer any help to the needy passengers and that was why they were so curious, said Azam Qureshi hailing from Nakhas Konha.