Organisers of Varanasi religious event booked for stampede that killed 25

HT Correspondent,Varanasi: A case was registered against five members of the organising body of a religious

congregation in Varanasi during which the Rajghat bridge stampede took place, killing 25 people and injuring 60 others on Saturday.
The stampede took place when thousands of followers of the late spiritual leader Jai Gurudev were taking out a procession as part of the Jai Gurudev Adhyatmic Satsang Mahamanav-Sangam being held at Domari village.
The five people who have been named in the case are Awadhesh Mani, convener Benchu Prasad, spokesperson Baburam, co-convenor Jaswant Chaurasia and senior office bearer Charan Singh following an application by the station officer.
The case was registered at Ramnagar police station under Section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), Section 177 (furnishing false information), Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Confirming that a case was filed against five organisers, station officer Mulchand Chaurasia said: “Sub-inspector Dileep Srivastava has been instructed to investigate the matter.” He added that he was waiting for further instructions from the senior officers. He also said that all five organisers would be arrested soon.
While seeking permission from the local administration for the event, the organisers had claimed that only 3,000 people would attend it. But a crowd of over two lakh poured in to the city, causing heavy traffic jam on the Rajghat bridge. The stampede occurred reportedly after a rumour about bridge collapse.
A day after the stampede, Pankaj Maharaj, chairperson of the Jai Gurudev Dharma Prachakar Sanstha and a disciple of the late Jai Gurudev, addressed a huge gathering of followers.
During his discourse, he expressed grief over the incident but washed his hands of any mismanagement on the part of the organisation.
He also claimed that only 3,000 people were invited and what could he do if more people turned up. Maharaj left the city on Monday.