Baba, Hathras police, UP govt responsible for stampede: Chandra Shekhar Azad

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Noida, Jul 8 (PTI) Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) chief Chandra Shekhar Azad on Monday held Surajpal alias Narayan Sakar Hari alias Bhole Baba responsible for the July 2 Hathras stampede and alleged the district police, administration and the UP government were equally responsible for it.

The Lok Sabha MP also asked the UP government to increase the compensation to Rs 25 lakh to the families of 121 dead victims. He said Surajpal should extend a financial help of Rs 1 crore on his own since he is "not a poor man".

After meeting some patients and their families in the hospital in Hathras, he said he has appealed to the doctors to provide better care and get the victims' MRIs done considering their complaints of pain in their knees and stomach.

"The police, the administration and the government are equally responsible for this incident. They are as much responsible for the incident as the Baba (Surajpal) is. If the Baba is gathering this level of crowd, he should also ensure proper arrangements and cannot play with the lives of the people," Azad said.

"There is also a problem with the government that made tall claims but there are no adequate facilities in the hospitals like oxygen, as was seen in some cases on the day of the stampede. Some patients faced difficulties in hospitals," he claimed.

Azad appealed to the government and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to make sure the count of the victims is done properly because, he said, some families took the bodies with them after the stampede and they should also be kept in the ambit of compensation.

"Secondly, the amount of compensation announced is less and it should be increased to Rs 25 lakh so that the families of the victims get helped," he said.

"I appeal to the Baba (Surajpal), If he can listen to me, that if you are actually a well-wisher of these victims, because these people had their faith in him, he should extend a financial support of Rs 1 crore to the victims.

The kind of information that we are getting reveals that the Baba is not a poor man and if he cannot take care of his followers, then who else will?" he asked.

Otherwise the public should also understand that staying away from such "hypocrites and blind faith" will be good for them, the MP added.

Azad said he doesn't follow any Baba, but only Baba Sahab Ambedkar and urged "my people" (Dalit community) to stay away from such preachers.

The Centre and the UP government have announced Rs 2 lakh each for the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured in the July 2 stampede.

So far, nine people, including the chief organiser and fund-raiser of the July 2 event Devprakash Madhukar, have been arrested in the case, in which preacher Surajpal is not mentioned as an accused.

Separately, a judicial commission headed by a retired high court judge and a special investigation team led by an additional director general of police are carrying out their investigation into the episode.

Government agencies, including police, have blamed the organisers for mismanagement at the event, saying the crowd's size exceeded to more than 2.50 lakh from the permitted 80,000, even though the lawyer of the 'godman' on Saturday claimed ''some poisonous substance'' sprayed by ''some unidentified men'' triggered the stampede. PTI KIS MNK MNK

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