M A I N   N E W S

Five dera devotees die in stampede
Sushil Manav/Tribune News Service

Sirsa, April 30
The Foundation Day celebrations at Dera Sacha Sauda here turned tragic when five women followers were killed in a stampede today.

Dera sources said the stampede occurred on a road outside the sect building past Thursday midnight after the satsang. But unconfirmed reports said the women were killed inside the dera where gifts were being distributed among dera followers.

Thousands of men and women had assembled at the dera on the occasion its 62nd Foundation Day.

The police and the district administration came to know of the deaths this morning when informed by the hospital authorities that the bodies of five women had been brought there for postmortem.

The victims have been identified as Bimla Rani of Patel Nagar in Bathinda, Parkash Devi of Fatehabad Basti Bhiwan, Bateri Devi from a village in Hisar, Mukhtiar Kaur from Masitan village in Sirsa and Kamla Rani from Bathinda.

“We came from Fatehabad last evening. On reaching here, men and women were sent for separate enclosures. We decided to meet near the traffic ground used for parking vehicles. By midnight, all of us returned to the ground outside the dera building, but for my aunt Parkash Devi. “We looked for her everywhere, including the dera building, but she was nowhere to be seen. Later, when we returned to the traffic ground, we found two bodies, including that of my aunt, lying on the roadside,” said Rajesh Kumar, who had come to the dera with other members of his family.

“Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and free medical treatment for the injured,” said DC Yudhbir Singh Khyalia while talking to the media at the Sirsa general hospital.

SP Satinder Kumar Gupta said legal formalities under Section 174 of the CrPC had been done and the Sadar police was investigating the case.

He maintained that “the police first received reports of the incident only at 8 am today.”

Dera spokesperson Aditya Insan said this morning that the stampede occurred following a rumour about the presence of a snake.

Later, Pawan Insan, another spokesperson of the dera, said the stampede occurred when a strong wind began to blow as women moved towards their vehicles.

He said dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had expressed deep grief at the deaths and announced Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased.

Sukhwinder Singh Khalsa, president of Guru Granth Sahib Satkaar Sabha, meanwhile, demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.

Talking to mediapersons at Dasham Patshahi Gurdwara here today, Khalsa alleged that the local police was unlikely to bring out the truth.

Rohtak: The Haryana unit of the CPI(M) has expressed grief and shock over the death of five women in a stampede at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa. In a press statement here, state secretary Inderjit Singh demanded an impartial probe into the reasons for the “mishap”. It wanted responsibility fixed for the mismanagement. The CPI(M) said distribution of gifts could be a cause of the stampede. — TNS





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