Hathras stampede: Judicial probe panel meets with local people, witnesses

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Hathras Stampede

Noida: The Uttar Pradesh government's judicial commission team probing the July 2 stampede interacted on Sunday with local people in Hathras, besides officials and witnesses of the tragedy that claimed 121 lives.

The three-member team formed under the chairmanship of retired Allahabad High Court judge Brijesh Kumar Shrivastava comprises former IAS officer Hemant Rao and former IPS officer Bhavesh Kumar.

It reached Hathras on Saturday and visited the stampede site near Phulrai village along the National Highway 91. On Sunday morning, the team camped at the PWD Guest House along the Aligarh Road in the district and continued the inquiry.

"We have been mandated to file our inquiry report within two months," Shrivastava told reporters on Saturday after reviewing the incident site. Hathras District Magistrate Ashish Kumar and Superintendent of Police Nipun Agarwal accompanied the team.

So far, nine people, including key accused Devprakash Madhukar, have been arrested in connection with the stampede.

On Saturday, Hathras police said they are also probing the suspected funding of the congregation by a political party and warned of the "strictest possible" action against it.

Madhukar was the main organiser and fundraiser of the July 2 'satsang' of self-styled godman Surajpal alias Narayan Sakar Hari alias Bhole Baba where over 2.50 lakh people had gathered, much beyond the permitted limit of 80,000, according to officials.

The godman was not mentioned as accused in the FIR lodged at the local Sikandra Rao police station on July 2.

Separately, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Uttar Pradesh government is probing the episode. The SIT is led by Additional Director General of Police (Agra Zone) Anupam Kulshrestha.

Kulshrestha on Friday told PTI that they have not ruled out the conspiracy angle in the stampede and added that the culpability of the incident was on the organisers of the event.

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