Centre should set up 'religious fund' for victims of Hathras-like incidents, says Rakesh Tikait

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Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait speaks with the media upon his arrival in Hathras, Monday, July 8, 2024.

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait speaks with the media upon his arrival in Hathras, Monday, July 8, 2024.

Noida: Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait on Monday said if the NDA government wants to make India a Hindu nation, it should set up a "religious fund" for giving compensation after Hathras-like tragedies.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson made the jibe when he visited Hathras and demanded Rs 50 lakh compensation to the victims of the Hathras stampede that killed 121 people on July 2.

Talking to reporters, he said there is no responsibility of anyone in "accidents" like these and urged the authorities to learn from the incident in order to prevent future tragedies.

Advocating governmental responsibility, Tikait said, "If the government wants to make it a Hindu nation, then it should also create a 'Dharmik Fund' (religious fund) for disbursing compensations in such accidents. If not the government, then who will compensate for such acts?" Responding to queries about the political implications of the gathering, Tikait alleged that the religious programmes are the government's agenda.

He alluded to broader political strategies, and said, "For the next 'Dharmik Yudh' (religious war), the government has already said Mathura is our agenda. This area (Hathras) falls in the 'paridhi' (range) of Mathura. Such programmes will be held." Asked about the timing and context of the event, Tikait remarked, "The agenda was started 20 years ago, much before 2014," and highlighted the longstanding nature of religious and political movements in the region.

He said India is based on "krishi" (agriculture) and "rishi" (saints).

"Any fiddling with either will lead to 'andolan' (protests), " he said.

Tikait, who had played a leading role in the year-long farmer protest against the three farm laws which were later withdrawn, referred to recent government initiatives and said, "If in Ayodhya, the government is running free trains, then how would anyone stop such events here?" he added.

Tikait stressed the need for compensation and preventive measures in the wake of the stampede after the 'satsang' of self-styled godman Surajpal, who is also known as Narayan Sakar Hari and Bhole Baba, at Fulrai village in Hathras' Sikandra Rau area.

"The victims should get a compensation of Rs 50 lakh, like it was done in the Lakhimpur Kheri case. Give them the compensation and it will help victims," he said.

In the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, some farmers were mowed down allegedly by a car linked to the then Union minister Ajay Mishta Teni in October 2021.

Tikait criticised the use of provocative language used in the Hathras stampede.

"The soil of the place where the event took place is 'Dharmik Mitti' (religious soil). The administration should make sure such words are not used in the future to prevent crowding at one place in such events," he said.

Tikait was referring to the Hathras stampede which took place after the devotees reportedly rushed towards Bhole Baba, apparently to have a 'darshan' and to collect some soil from the spot he had walked upon and the 'sevadars' shoved them away.

"In accidents, there is nobody responsible. There is nobody to blame but only lessons to be learned from accidents," Tikait asserted.

He dismissed the efficacy of lodging cases or conducting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe, suggesting instead that such inquiries merely serve to acknowledge the possibility of accidents at crowded events.

Prior to Tikait's visit, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi also met with victims' families and called for a hike in compensation awarded to them.

The Centre and the UP government have announced Rs 2 lakh each for the dead and Rs 50,000 for those 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 as part of the police investigation into the case which does not mention the name of preacher Surajpal 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 inquiries into the episode.

Government agencies, including police, have so far blamed the organisers for mismanagement at the event, noting that the size of the crowd exceeded to over 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.