Watch: Stampede-Like Scene At A Congress Marathon In UP, Masks Missing

In visuals, hundreds of women and teenage girls were seen without masks at the marathon in UP's Bareilly

The marathon in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly was organised by a local Congress leader

Lucknow:

A marathon organised by a Congress leader in Uttar Pradesh as part of the party's "ladki hun, lad sakti hun (women can fight)" election campaign came close to a stampede of sorts this morning.

In visuals, hundreds of women and teenage girls were seen without masks at the marathon in UP's Bareilly. 

The massive crowd of marathon participants - most without masks amid rising COVID-19 cases - filled an entire road. As they started the long run, a few women in the front tripped and fell to the ground, leading to a brief scare as more crowds from the rear pushed those in the front.

The situation almost led to a stampede; no one was injured fortunately.

Congress leader and former Bareilly mayor Supriya Aron, who organised the event, said there is nothing to worry. "Thousands in crowds also went to Vaishno Devi. What about that? See, it's a very human thing. These are schoolgirls and they only wanted to come out for a bit. But if anyone is offended for any reason, I want to apologise on behalf of the Congress," Ms Aron said.

The threat of COVID-19 and the fast-spreading Omicron variant looms over elections in states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where political parties continue to hold rallies. The Election Commission has said political parties want polls to be held with following strict COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The Congress, which has been reduced to a non-player in Uttar Pradesh, has been focusing on gender equality in view of the spiralling crime against women in the state. Some of these cases - including the gang-rape of a Dalit woman in Hathras, and a case in Unnao - made headlines and provoked outrage across the country.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra first gave the "ladki hun, lad sakti hun" election slogan last month.

The BJP has also launched a number of schemes for women in the politically crucial state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started projects to transfer more than Rs 1,000 crore into the bank accounts of over 16 lakh women.

The Samajwadi Party has tried to highlight its initiatives for women undertaken during the party governments led by Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

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