Three women died in a stampede at a programme organised on Sunday in a ground near JKC College in Guntur.
The incident happened soon after TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, who attended the event organsied by the Vuyyuru Foundation, left the venue.
The incident came close on the heels of a similar stampede three days ago at a TDP public meeting at Kandukur in Nellore district, which claimed eight lives.
Two of the deceased were identified as Syed Aashiya (45) of Nagarampalem and Gopideso Rama Devi, a resident of AP Agraharam. One of them died on the spot, while the other two died while they were being shifted to the Guntur Government General Hospital (GGH). The identity of the third victim was not yet established. Nine others were injured in the incident.
Health Minister V. Rajini visited the hospital and announced an ex gratia of ₹2 lakh to the kin of each deceased and ₹50,000 compensation to the injured. She said Mr. Naidu should own up responsibility for the deaths.
The tragedy struck when a larger-than-expected crowd gathered at the venue of “Janata Vastraala Pampini” (free distribution of clothes). The kits comprised a saree and groceries.
Superintendent of Police K. Arif Hafeez told The Hindu that 15 counters were set up for distribution of the kits, and the tragedy struck at the first counter, a short while after Mr. Naidu addressed the people and left the venue.
Governor, CM condole deaths
Meanwhile, Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan expressed shock and profound grief over the death of three women in the stampede. In a statement, he instructed the Guntur district administration to extend immediate medical assistance to those who were injured in the incident.
Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock over the loss of lives. He instructed the officials to ensure quality medical care to the injured and said the government would stand by the families of the deceased.
BJP State leader S. Vishnuwardhan Reddy expressed grief over the incident and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families. He demanded a probe into the stampede.
Naidu announces ex gratia
Meanwhile, Mr. Naidu, while expressing shock over the incident, announced an ex gratia of ₹5 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.
In a statement, Mr. Naidu said he participated in the programme organised by the Vuyyuru Foundation. “It is really painful that three persons died in the stampede that took place after I left the venue. I attended the programme to encourage the voluntary organisation that is trying to help the poor.”
TDP State president K. Atchannaidu blamed the YSRCP government for the tragedy.
He said Mr. Naidu was the chief guest at the programme. The organisers had taken prior permission from the police for the programme. “But the authorities concerned failed to provide adequate security and manage the crowds,” he alleged.