Jan 21, 2014

Ashram stampede: Pratapgarh SP admits lapse on part of cops at outpost

Indian Express

Written by Vijay Pratap Singh

March 06, 2010 

While the district administration had tried to distance itself from the tragedy in which 63 women and children were killed in a stampede at the Bhakti Dham Ashram on Thursday,the fact is that there is a police post near the ashram which did nothing to control the crowds.

The police post,which is actually known as Bhakti Dham outpost and is under Kunda police station,has four policemen,including a sub-inspector. They watched the crowds swell,but did not do anything on their own,nor informed the higher authorities,it is learnt.
On Friday,Pratapgarh SP M P Mishra admitted that there had been negligence on the part of the policemen at the outpost and that action would be taken against them.
On Thursday,officiating District Magistrate Ashok Kumar Upadhyaya had said the administration had no advance information about the event organised by the ashram,otherwise they would have taken measures to regulate the crowds.
Allahabad Commissioner A K Upadhaya,who was asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident,and IG Chandra Prakash questioned Ram Kripal Tripathi alias Kripalu Maharaj at the ashram. Upadhyaya also recorded the statements of some victims and eyewitnesses,including men from the ashram.
Although the content of his interim report to the government could not be known,it is learnt that he has blamed the organisers and also the local police for the tragedy.
Meanwhile,in a statement,Kripalu Maharaj claimed that neither he nor any of his staff had invited the people who had gathered at the ashram on the occasion of his wife’s death anniversary.
On Thursday evening,ashram’s spokesperson Radhika Saran had told The Indian Express that keeping in mind the large number of gathering anticipated,the ashram had informed Kunda police and district administration on February 25.
The crowds from nearby villages had gathered to collect the ‘prasad’ of Rs 20,one utensil,one laddoo and one handkerchief that the ashram was to give to every visitor.
SP leader Ahikesh Yadav,Congress MP from Pratapgarh Ratna Singh,and Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari visited the spot where the incident took place and met the injured in the hospital.
Who is Kripaluji Maharaj? Ram Kripal Tripathi (86),also known as Jagatguru Kripaluji Maharaj,was born into a poor farmer’s family in Mangarh. He participated in a religious competition in Allahabad and earned the title of ‘Jagatguru’ in 1957. * Tripathi holds a master’s degree in Sanskrit and was a purohit for some time. He has three daughters and two sons.
His Ashram * With help from his foreign disciples,Tripathi set up the Mangarh ashram 20 years ago. It is spread over 200 acres. He also has ashrams in Mathura,Nagpur and Trinidad. * He heads the Radha Madhav Society in Trinidad,which has around 300 centres worldwide. His followers believe him to be the fifth Jagatguru and the first in the last 700 years. * He owns a fleet of BMW and Mercedes cars. The Mangarh ashram has a helipad.
Under a cloud * Tripathi was charged with kidnapping two girls,and in 1991,cases of kidnapping and rape were registered against him in Nagpur. Another case of raping a minor was also lodged in Nagpur the same year. He was acquitted after the witnesses turned hostile * A 22-year-old Guyanese woman in South Trinidad filed a rape case against him in May 2007,which led to his arrest. He was in jail for over a month. ENS

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