At least 24 people have reportedly died and more than 20 injured in a stampede today at Rajghat bridge between Varanasi and Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh.
The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp, police said.
People in large numbers were brought for the camp by the organisers who had taken the permission only for two to three thousand devotees.
One person died due to suffocation on the bridge because of the surging crowd on the narrow Ganga bridge leading to rumours which resulted in the stampede, ADG law and order Daljit Chaudhary said.
Spokesman of Jai Gurudev Sansthan Raj Bahadur said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp, but police started sending them back though they kept on thronging the bridge.
This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed leading to stampede, Raj Bahadur said, alleging there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.
Senior police and administration officials of Varansi and Chandauli rushed to the spot to carry out relief and rescue operations.
Sharma said an inquiry will be instituted to ascertain if any lapses led to the incident.
Home Secretary S K Raghuvanshi and ADG (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary rushed to monitor the rescue work, officials said in Lucknow.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the MP from Varanasi, expressed anguish over the incident and asked senior officials to take stock of the situation. He also announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 15, 2016
I have spoken to officials & asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 15, 2016
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs each to next of kin of those killed and free treatment to the injured, who have been admitted to different hospitals in Varanasi and Chandauli, IG (Law and Order) Hariom Sharma said.
(With PTI inputs)