Allahabad: After 36 people died in a stampede at the Allahabad railway station, the union and state governments have denied that their lapses may have contributed to the tragedy; they blame the massive rush of passengers, returning from a dip in the waters of the Ganga and Yamuna, at the Maha Kumbh, the world's largest religious festival.
"We all know who is to at fault for this incident," said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is expected to visit Allahabad on Tuesday morning.
Azam Khan, a senior cabinet minister in his government, resigned as the head of Kumbh Mela Management Committee "on moral grounds." The UP government said an enquiry will be completed within a month. Officials denied reports that the crisis was caused by the collapse of a pedestrian bridge, or a misguided lathi or baton charge by the police on the passengers.
Three crore people were in Allahabad on Sunday, believed to be the most auspicious day of the Maha Kumbh, which takes place once every 12 years. In the evening, the station, which can accommodate 40,000 people, was packed with lakhs of travellers.
Union Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said enough trains had been provided for the huge crowds. "The entire Railway system of India ferries 2.3 crore people each day. Even if we have trains at 10-minute intervals at Allahabad, managing 3 crore people may not be possible," he said. (Highlights: What Pawan Bansal said)
"Suddenly there were at least a hundred people on top of me," recalled Shashi Bhaduri, lying on a hospital bed. (Watch: No help for hours, say eyewitnesses)
For almost two hours after the tragedy, there was only one doctor available to attend to the injured at the station, said others.
The youngest victim, eight-year-old Muskaan, lay injured on the platform for over two hours, before railway officials shifted her to hospital, her parents said. She died this morning. (Watch: No help for two hours, eight-year-old Muskaan dies)