About 25,000 people gathering in a narrow lane for a feast — with no crowd control — at an ashram in Kunda town in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district on Thursday was a disaster in the making.
And sure enough, before people reached the main hall where the feast was to be served, a stampede broke out, killing 63 people — all of them women and children.
“Thirty-six children and 27 women died” at the Kripalu Maharaj Ashram, said Allahabad IG Chandra Prakash. More than 150 were injured, he added.
The tragedy took place before noon when thousands of people from Pratapgarh, 70 km from Allahabad, and the adjoining districts assembled outside the ashram gates, waiting for them to open. Neither ashram authorities nor the district administration had made crowd control arrangements.
Kripalu Maharaj had organised the feast to mark the first death anniversary of his wife, Padma Devi. The stampede took place when one of the main gates of the ashram collapsed, trapping people beneath it.