At least 24 Hindus trampled by the crowd frightened by a false alarm. The president of the Indian bishops provides hospitals, clinics and medical care for the hundreds of wounded. Varanasi hosted celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, on the relationship between the Catholic Church and other religions.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops' Conference of India, has expressed closeness to the victims of yesterday’s accident in Varanasi where during a gathering of Hindu pilgrims, because of a false alarm, at least 24 people have died crushed by the crowd . The prelate offered solidarity, providing all hospitals to treat the wounded, on behalf of the entire Catholic community.
"The Church in India - he told AsiaNews - is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in Varanasi yesterday afternoon. Our condolences go to the injured and to all those who have been affected by this tragedy. The Church in India will make all of its hospitals, dispensaries and clinics available along with the necessary medical care for the hundreds of wounded. I send my condolences to the families of the dead, and my comfort to the wounded".
The accident happened yesterday afternoon among the thousands of faithful of the guru Jai Gurudev who went to the village of Domri (Varanasi) on the banks of the river Ganges. 3 thousand people were expected and instead about 70 thousand followers of the guru showed up. The accident occurred after police tried to remove most of the faithful from too narrow a bridge. However, it was rumored that the bridge was breaking, and the crowd began to flee engulfing another crowd who were fleeing in the opposite direction.
Card. Gracias recalled that last February in Varanasi the Bishops celebrated the 50th anniversary of the document Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council on the Church's relations with other religions. "The inter-religious meeting - said the cardinal - gathered together Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains to celebrate religious diversity and promote a world of peace and love".
"Unfortunately - he added - Today this ancient city is full of lamentation, pain, grief. The Indian Church is close to all this suffering. "
Today, throughout the Indian Church a day of prayer for peace was held. "All of us - said Card. Gracias - will pray for Varanasi, for the dead and the wounded".