Hathras tragedy: Effective crowd management is imperative

It was a tragedy waiting to happen. Over 2.5 lakh people crammed into a closed tent, without multiple exits, for a religious gathering in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh. It would be a miracle if disasters did not happen at such recklessly unsafe events. The death of 121 people – most of them women and children – in a stampede during a ‘satsang’ in Uttar Pradesh’ Hathras came as a grim reminder of the pathetic standards of crowd management in India. The Hathras tragedy resulted from the organisers’ callous indifference towards basic safety norms. Many people thronged the site to seek the blessings of the self-styled godman Bhole Baba, revered by his followers as a healer with magical powers who could even bring the dead back to life.

It is a tragic irony that this preacher fled the scene to save his own life, instead of using his so-called magical powers to prevent his devotees from dying. Stringent action must be taken against Bhole Baba and his organisation for their failure to ensure safety norms. Unfortunately, such self-styled godmen continue to thrive by capitalising on superstitions prevailing in society. Even in Arunachal Pradesh, in recent years, many such large-scale religious gatherings have taken place. Until now no major stampede has been reported, which is a huge relief. However, the authorities cannot be careless. They should learn from the major tragedies that have caused so much death in the country from large-scale religious gatherings. The authorities should train officials for effective crowd management in Arunachal.