» 02/11/2013, 00.00
Allahabad: 36 people die crushed by 150 thousand Maha Kumbh Mela pilgrims
The incident took place last night at the city's railway station. Police and staff took no action to stop the fleeing crowd, nor to help the wounded. The victims were mostly elderly and children.
(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.
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
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.
The Maha Kumbh Mela, a spectacle of extremism and violence
This was stated by Lenin Raguvanshi, a lay activist in Varanasi. He denounces the participation of Naga sadhus, ascetic warriors who parade armed with swords and tridents, "militarizing" a religious moment as important as that of the Kumbh Mela. It is "urgent and necessary" to prohibit the participation of these individuals, and stand against the caste system, "to give dignity" to Dalits and tribals.
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Maharashtra chief minister and Union Home Affairs minister inaugurated the celebrations. Security measures have been boosted to prevent crowd-related incidents. President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) slams government’s double standards vis-à-vis Christian gatherings.
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According to a director of Pakistani railways, the accident was caused by ice on tracks at a junction. Pakistan’s railway system is obsolete, and trains transport up to three times their passenger capacity.
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One of the largest religious gatherings in the world, it is held every six years. The fulcrum of the pilgrimage is the ritual bathing of purification at the confluence India’s three most renowned sacred rivers.
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