Former BJP president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the head of an ashram, where 63 women and children were killed in a stampede during a feast organised for poor villagers, could not be blamed for the tragedy as there was “no ill intention” on his part.

“There is no ill intention on the part of Kripalu Maharaj and his aim is also not wrong...in fact he is only interested in the welfare of people,” Mr. Singh, who visited the families of the dead and injured, told reporters here.

The stampede broke out on Thursday at the ashram located in Mangarh village, about 60 kms from here, where a feast had been organised for poor villagers in the memory of the 88-year-old Maharaj’s wife.

An FIR was filed against the organisers and managers of the function at the ashram at the Kunda police station. No one has been specifically named in the case.

The BJP leader lashed out at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for not visiting the stampede site and issuing a statement that the State government would provide financial assistance to kin of the victims only if the Centre failed to respond.

Mr. Singh demanded an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for those who lost their lives and Rs 2 lakh for the injured besides free treatment for them. He warned of a protest if the State failed to do so.

The BJP president also attacked the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for “spiralling prices and poverty because of which massive crowds had gathered at the ashram for food and gifts”.