Days After Hathras Tragedy, An On-Camera Statement From ‘Bhole Baba’

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After 121 people were killed in a deadly stampede at his ‘satsang’ in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras earlier this week, Bhole Baba, the former constable-turned-self-styled godman, has said that he was “deeply saddened” by the incident. 

“May God give us the strength to bear this pain. Please keep faith in the government and the administration. I have faith that anyone who created the chaos would not be spared. Through my lawyer AP Singh, I have requested the members of the committee to stand with the bereaved families and the injured and help them throughout their lives,” said ‘Bhole Baba’ in a video statement. 

#WATCH | Hathras Stampede Accident | Mainpuri, UP: In a video statement, Surajpal also known as ‘Bhole Baba’ says, “… I am deeply saddened after the incident of July 2. May God give us the strength to bear this pain. Please keep faith in the government and the administration. I… pic.twitter.com/7HSrK2WNEM

— ANI (@ANI) July 6, 2024

Table of Contents

The Stampede

The ‘satsang’ attracted as many as 2.5 lakh devotees. The stampede began when attendees “started collecting dust” from the ground where Bhole Baba’s car had passed. This chaotic scene led to men, women, and children falling over each other, resulting in several deaths. The gathering far exceeded the 80,000-person limit set by authorities, police said.

Bhole Baba, also known as Narayan Sakar Hari, had been elusive since the stampede. His lawyer, AP Singh, had said yesterday that he will cooperate with the investigation. “We have district-wise lists of the victims, and Narayan Sakar Hari’s trust would take care of the education, health, and wedding expenses of the families of those who died in the stampede,” Mr Singh said.

Main Accused Arrested

Devprakash Madhukar, the ‘mukhya sevadar’ of the ‘satsang’, has been arrested in Delhi, Hathras Police has said. With Madhukhar’s arrest, the total number of arrests in the case now stands at seven.

However, Mr Singh, who also represents Madhukar, has claimed that his client had surrendered, not arrested. “Today, we have surrendered Devprakash Madhukar, who was named the main organiser in the FIR in the Hathras case, after notifying the police, the SIT, and the STF in Delhi since he was undergoing treatment here,” Mr Singh stated in a video message. 

“We had promised we would not apply for anticipatory bail since we did no wrong. What is our crime? He is an engineer and a heart patient. Doctors said his condition is stable now, and so we surrendered today to join the probe,” Mr Singh added.

An FIR was registered against Madhukar by UP Police in Hathras, making him the prime accused in connection with the stampede. The police had even announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to his arrest. Six others, including two women volunteers who were part of the organising committee of the ‘satsang’, were arrested.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was briefed on the initial Special Investigation Team (SIT) report on the stampede. This confidential report, submitted by the Additional Director General (ADG) of Police, Agra Zone, Anupam Kulshrestha, contains testimonies from key officials, including Hathras District Magistrate Ashish Kumar and Superintendent of Police Nipun Aggarwal. The FIR was registered under various sections of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

The three-member SIT has recorded statements from 90 individuals so far. The state government has also established a three-member judicial commission headed by a retired high court judge.

Ahmed Mainul

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