UP Cop Tells How The Hathras Stampede Could’ve Been Avoided; But Who Is This Bhole Baba?

The stampede in Hathras, a district in the state of Uttar Pradesh has led to hundreds of people injured and the death of 121 people. The incident happened on Tuesday, 2 July 2024 when over 2 lakh attendees congregated to attend a satsang by a godman called Bhole Baba in the Rati Bhanpur village in the Sikandra Rau, Hathras.

A preliminary report by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Sikandra Rau has also claimed that the chaos started after the security personnel of Narayan Sakar Hari, also known as Bhole Baba, pushed the followers. This resulted in a massive stampede that led to several people getting injured and even deaths.

The situation escalated when followers rushed toward Bhole Baba as he was leaving the venue in an attempt to get his ‘darshan’ and collect soil from around his feet.

People were reportedly rushing toward his vehicle, standing on road dividers, and when the Baba’s security and sevadars pushed the crowd back in an attempt to control them it caused some people to fall and created panic leading to a stampede.

Who Is Bhole Baba?

A former UP cop revealed that the Bhole Baba is a former UP Police constable called Suraj Pal Singh and was involved in several misdemeanour cases while in the force.

He wrote, “He was placed under suspension, but on bail, he opted for voluntary retirement and reinvented himself as a godman.”

Suraj Pal comes from a village in Kasganj district of Aligarh division, and after quitting the UP Police started to give sermons and satsangs and started to be addressed by ‘Narain Sakaar Hari’ and ‘Bhole Baba’.

He is also known as ‘Sakar Vishwa Hari Baba’ and his unique trait is wearing only white clothes in public and claiming that he has been reached directly by the Almighty. Some of his satsangs have also been attended by MPs and MLAs, however, still not much is known about the self-styled godman due to the media lockdown around him.

The use of mobile and photography is also discouraged at his events as per reports, with the Baba not being too involved in social media. Even during his event at Hathras, it has been alleged that volunteers bullied the audience into not taking photographs from their phones.

Inspector General (IG) Shalabh Mathur has also confirmed that self-styled preacher Surajpal (Bhole Baba) has records of taking VRS when he was posted as a constable during the 1990s. He also said “Police records reveal that a case was registered against the Baba at Shahganj police station of Agra. He was later acquitted. We are actively (looking for) any other FIR registered against Bhole Baba in (any) other part of the country.”

Reports have also called out the lack of a First Information Report (FIR) against Bhole Baba while it has been registered against the sevadar volunteers.

To this, Mathur commented “But for now Bhole Baba has not been named in the FIR because permission for the satsang at Hathras was not sought in his name but in the name of absconding main accused Dev Prakash Madhukar. He is named in FIR but is absconding.”

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UP Cop Tells How Stampede Could Have Been Avoided

In an Indian Express article, a former director general of police in Uttar Pradesh wrote how the Hathras stampede could have been avoided. The police officer wrote, “Preliminary reports indicated that the district administration has a lot of explaining to do for the tragedy.”

He further wrote, “The police presence at the event was minimal. Normally, for such events, police deployment is chargeable from the party that demands arrangements. After all, they earn from their followers. It remains to be seen if this practice was followed in Hathras.”

The cop further commented that a crowd of 2,50,000 people takes at least seven to eight hours to collect and how a “contingency plan was imperative but it is obvious there was none. CCTVs should have been in place and the site should have had proper exit and entry points per the district’s internal security scheme.”

The police officer also wrote about how negligence especially the delay in providing medical aid should be investigated since “post-mortems indicated that most deaths were caused by broken rib cage, crushing, asphyxia and/or haemorrhage.”

Insensitive Media Coverage

The media has also been called out for insensitive reporting of the incident with a report by The Print pointing how news agency ANI “Your children died right before your eyes?” to a woman who lost two children in the stampede.

A CNN News 18 reporter also asked questions to an elderly woman who was not really in a situation to understand and answer questions properly. While eyewitnesses and officials have revealed that the incident occurred around 3.30 pm, The Print pointed out that “TV news took approximately three hours to headline ‘To be near Baba people met with death’ (a headline by Aaj Tak).”

As per the latest update, Inspector General (IG) Shalabh Mathur of the Aligarh Range has said that six people have been arrested concerning the Hathras stampede along with a non-bailable warrant against chief sevadar Devprakash Madhukar and a reward of Rs. 1 lakh announced.

Mathur said “When the stampede occurred the six servitors who are now arrested had run away from the site. Rs 1 lakh reward is being announced on the arrest of the main accused Prakash Madhukar. Soon, a non-bailable warrant will be issued against him. We will also investigate if this incident occurred due to a conspiracy.”

Commenting about the involvement of Bhole Baba, Mathur said “When the stampede occurred the six servitors who are now arrested had run away from the site. Rs 1 lakh reward is being announced on the arrest of the main accused Prakash Madhukar. Soon, a non-bailable warrant will be issued against him. We will also investigate if this incident occurred due to a conspiracy.”

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

SourcesThe Indian ExpressHindustan Times, The Print

Find the blogger: @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Hathras, Hathras stampede, Hathras stampede baba name, bhole baba, Hathras stampede news, Hathras stampede reason, Hathras stampede baba, Hathras stampede 2024, up, up police, uttar pradesh, religious gathering, Hathras baba name, Hathras case, Hathras satsang, Hathras satsang news

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