(AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 36 people have died at the station of
Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), overwhelmed by a crowd of more than 150 thousand
pilgrims returning from the Maha Kumbh Mela, the biggest Hindu festival. The
incident took place yesterday evening, when a sudden and massive crowd of
people broke through an overbridge railing and poured onto one of the platforms,
crushing those present. Most of the
victims were elderly and children. About
a dozen people are hospitalized in critical condition.
Witnesses told the national daily The Times of India, that no law enforcement officer, nor any member of staff came to the scene to stop the fleeing crowd, despite the cries for help. "Because of the mass of people on the foot of a bridge - remember Beta Lal, whose wife is in the hospital - the police began to disperse the people, crushing those who were on the platform." After the accident, he adds, "the railway authorities did not even came to help the wounded."
The Maha Kumbh Mela is considered to be the largest gathering of humanity on Earth: Overall, at least 100 million people will attended it this year. According to tradition, immersion in the Sangam - the confluence of the sacred rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna and Saraswati - washes away sins and helps the faithful to attain salvation. However, many people consider it to be an exhibition of "violence and extremism", as there are always the naga sadhus among the participants, ascetics who profess a Hindu warrior-inspired violence.