A 22-year-old police aspirant was killed and 11 others injured in a stampede that broke out during a police recruitment drive at the Kalina grounds in Mumbai on Monday.
As soon as the gates of the ground were opened, thousands of youth forced their way in. They jumped over the barricades set up on the ground and fell on each other as well as on the police personnel who were trying to stop them, police said.
One person was killed in the ensuing melee. Around 30,000 youth had gathered at the ground since last night to submit their forms for 3600 vacant posts of police constables, police said.
"The deceased has been identified as Ramesh Amer from Ahmednagar district and the injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital," Additional Commissioner of Police Amitabh Gupta said.
The stampede at the police recruitment drive at Kalina hostel has shattered hopes of most of the job aspirants who came from different parts of Maharashtra.
A sense of depression has set in at the VN Desai hospital where some of the injured were admitted.
24-year-old Kiran Choudhary said he lost all original documents of his educational qualifications during the melee. He hoped the police would help him in finding them.
"I have four sisters and have to get them married. I was heavily banking on this job. Now my hopes are shattered," he said, adding that there was not enough police 'bandobast' at the spot.
Vinayak (22), another injured admitted in the hospital, said there was too much confusion at the window and there was no one to direct us. There were no police officers to maintain the queue. His physically disabled brother said, "Our family was hoping that Vinayak would get this job. Now we do not know what would be his fate."
"What will I do now? Our entire family was depending on him," said the father of 22-year-old Ramesh Gopinath from Ahmednagar, who was crushed to death in the stampede. Most of the 30,000 applicants had come from far off places like Shahpur and Ahmednagar and was waiting in queue since last night.
"A group of applicants was waiting since last night. We were in the beginning of the queue when the window opened today. Suddenly, those standing behind started pushing and surged forward to submit the forms. Everyone started jumping at each other which created panic and applicants in the front got hurt," Kiran said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil visited the injured at the hospital and assured them of providing compensation. "I will direct the police to fill in the forms of all the injured and submit it to the department concerned," Patil told reporters at the hospital.
N B Mohite, a police constable attached to Vakola police station, said the stampede had occurred because the crowd suddenly became eager to submit forms quickly. It became difficult to manage the queue as there were 30,000 applicants.
He said Kalina was just one centre. There were other centres in Mumbai --- at Worli, Elphinstone, Marine Lines, Marol, Somaiya College and Naigon. In each of these centres there were about 10,000 applicants waiting in the queue to submit the forms.
He further said applicants broke the queue at Kalina because they were in a hurry and had planned to submit forms at other centres, including Navi Mumbai and nearby Thane, as well. Meanwhile, sources said the stampede had occurred at the gate outside and not inside the police hostel. PTI