Where does the buck stop post Hathras ?

Lucknow: Can the authorities avoid responsibility for the catastrophe? Up to now, about six of the organizers of Bhole Baba’s gathering, which resulted in 120 plus fatalities, have been held accountable for the Hathras tragedy. Some obvious mistakes include the deployment of just 69 police officers at the scene, the absence of essential medical services at the closest government facility, the Sikandramau Trauma Centre, and the disregard for a 100-page set of guidelines from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

According to sources, the SIT investigation into the event may ultimately reveal administrative errors and result in the resignation of top officials for carelessness. Even though the district’s top police officials have been blaming the organizers for drawing a crowd that was over two lakh people instead of the 80,000 allowed, the truth is that only 69 police officers were assigned to cover the event. There was just one fire engine and one ambulance stationed, and no medical staff or doctor were sent to the scene. There was also no magistrate or senior police officer stationed. Investigations are underway to determine if a study of the venue was conducted routinely or prior to permission being granted.

Despite the enormous number of female devotees in the audience, there were only nine female personnel out of the 69 police officers on duty. There was only one station house officer, four inspectors, six more sub-inspectors, thirty head constables, nine female constables, and four traffic workers to handle the traffic during the event. There were fifteen UP PAC employees stationed. There are concerns about whether the 80,000 people who were allowed to be there would have been able to use this pitiful number of police officers. As there was only one ambulance available at the location, village residents had to use their own cars to transport the wounded and deceased to the hospital.

Furthermore, the Sikandramau Trauma Centre, the closest government hospital to which the dead and wounded were transported, lacked physicians, medical supplies, oxygen, and even power, making it terribly unprepared to manage such a disaster.

More than thirty wounded people who were brought in were just sent to other hospitals, raising the issue of whether the high death toll was also caused by delayed medical attention. The administration is also under scrutiny for their apparent lack of awareness of the situation when a much larger audience than anticipated arrived at the location. Uttar Pradesh might now create new SOPs.

Senior officials informed News18 that although all state governments currently have comprehensive 100-page guidelines under the NDMA outlining the safety measures to be taken to avoid stampedes at large public gatherings and events, it seems that these rules were not followed at this specific event. According to these regulations, the authorities must create a site map, provide sufficient access and departure points, implement emergency evacuation procedures, and provide a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts for handling such incidents. Since 2014, the NDMA has sent these instructions, titled “Managing Crowds at Events and Venues of Mass Gathering,” to every state. In Hathras, the same appears to be disregarded.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition, met with the victims’ relatives on Friday in Hathras. “An administrative error has occurred. There needs to be a thorough inquiry. Gandhi added, “The family members have informed me that there were insufficient police preparations.


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