Hathras stampede: Amid the dead, search on for the living

Hathras stampede: Amid the dead, search on for the living

While the district hospital staff said they have never seen a tragedy of such scale, locals at the village where the event was held alleged that the toll was higher than what the government has put out

Updated - July 04, 2024 03:25 pm IST

Published - July 03, 2024 10:29 pm IST - Hathras

The tragedy of the Hathras stampede that left 121 dead kept unfolding in the district hospitals and healthcare centres here on July 3 as family members of those who are still missing frantically searched for their near and dear ones.

Chandan Jatav, 28, said he picked up a bag and left Agra as soon as he heard about the stampede. His mother and paternal aunt were visiting the event. The two never returned home and their mobiles are swicthed off.

In shock: Vinod, cries after the burial of his mother, wife and daughter after the stampede incident at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh on July 3, 2024.

In shock: Vinod, cries after the burial of his mother, wife and daughter after the stampede incident at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh on July 3, 2024. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

“I was asked to uncover 10 dead bodies which were lying in the mortuary. None of them were my mother and aunt. They then asked me to go to Aligarh and Etah as rest of the bodies were sent there,” said Mr. Jatav, who was inconsolable when his brother called him to ask if he had managed to find the two. After weeping for a few minutes, a distraught Mr. Jatav left for Aligarh.

The Hathras hospital staff said they have not seen a human tragedy of such scale. “Laashein hi laashein padi thi kal yahan. Pair rakhne ko zagah nahi thi [There were piles of bodies on the floor of the hospital yesterday. There was no space to walk],” a staffer said.

At Phulrai village in the Sikandrarau area, where the meeting was held, a crowd gathered to witness the forensic teams screening the spot to ascertain the cause of the stampede.

“I have counted 300 bodies at this site. Buses and lorries were full. Many people left the spot with the bodies of their kin before police could arrive and take them for postmortem. The number of dead in this incident is far more than what is being told by the government,” Satendar Bhavnoi from Phulrai village said.

Some men gathered at the venue and threw stones at the posters of Narayan Sakar Hari, the self-styled godman who is being held responsible for the stampede by the locals. “The Baba should have left after the followers. It is obvious that people will run behind him,” said Mr. Bhavnoi.

Vishal Kumar, who hails from Mathura, said he is yet to find his mother who was at the meeting.

At Sokhna village, Vinod was yet to accept that he lost his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter in the stampede. He fainted every now and then while preparing for the cremation of the three whom he loved the most.

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