Mayawati announces relief for UP stampede victims

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 10, 2010

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today announced a compensation of Rs 2.50 lakh each for the next of kin of those who were killed in the stampede at the Kripalu Maharaj ashram at Kunda in Pratapgarh district on March 4.

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow today, Ms Mayawati said Rs 75,000 would be paid to each of those who suffered serious injuries in the incident.

As many as 63 persons - all women and children - had died in the stampede and about 70 had suffered injuries.

Ms Mayawati said she had directed the officials to ensure that the amount was delivered to the victims or their families within two days.

She also announced that the manager of the ashram, Hiranmay Chatterjee, and two of its employees, Shiv Kumar and Amit, had been arrested in connection with the incident.

The Chief Minister had earlier said that, because of the acute financial difficulties being faced by the State Government, it would not be able to pay compensation to the victims.

Referring to the ex-gratia payment of Rs two lakh announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured, Ms Mayawati accused the Centre of trying to gain political mileage out of the tragedy and said the amount had not been received by the State Government so far.

She went on to give details about the steps taken by her government to handle the crisis after the stampede had occurred. She said she had immediately directed the officers concerned to initiate rescue and relief operations and two senior Cabinet Ministers, Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Swami Prasad Maurya, had been directed to visit the spot and supervise the relief operations.

Those killed in the stampede included 37 women and 26 children. More than 10,000 people had gathered at the temple in the ashram for a function. Many of them were attracted to the event by the offer of a free meal, some utensils and clothes.

The function had been organised to mark the anniversary of the death of the wife of Kripalu Maharaj, a well-known religious leader.

The stampede occurred when a gate, that was under construction and was holding back hundreds of people, gave way suddenly and people surged forward in waves. Scores of people were trampled in the mad rush.