Tragedy should not be politicised, says Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh Yadav
Miffed over Opposition parties blaming Sunday's stampede which claimed 36 lives on administrative laxity, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said there should be no politics over a tragedy.

"The stampede was undoubtedly the most unfortunate thing to have happened. However, the Kumbh Mela is an event which is not just of UP, but the entire country and has international spotlight.

"There should be no politics when a tragedy occurs during an event like Kumbh Mela," Yadav told reporters outside the Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital here, where more than 30 people injured in the February 10 stampede are undergoing treatment.

On criticism in a section of media for his absence from Allahabad, Yadav said, "People said all sorts of things despite the fact that I had sent two senior members of the Cabinet here to take stock of the situation and take necessary action while I had to be elsewhere on account of personal reasons."

Replying to a query on Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal indirectly blaming poor crowd management by local administration for the stampede, the chief minister quipped, "I don't have to say anything if the Railway Minister or anyone else wants to do politics."

The chief minister also sought to give a clean chit to the officials of the district administration, saying, "Relief operations began at the earliest though arrival of ambulances was delayed a bit because of overcrowding on roads.

"I have myself met many of the survivors who, upon inquiring, said they were satisfied with the arrangements," he said.

To persistent queries, he said, "We have already ordered a high-level inquiry into the stampede. Before its conclusion and submission of report, we cannot and should not point fingers at anyone.

"We have handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh each to family members of those injured in the stampede. The total compensation announced is Rs 2 lakh and the remaining amount will reach the victims soon," he said.

"Besides, we have provided additional cash assistance of Rs 5,000 each to the injured people's kin and issued Directions that they be provided medicines free of cost," he said.

"We will also be ensuring that the Rs 7 lakh compensation announced to each of the deceased person's family, reaches the people in time.

"We are now committed to ensuring that the remaining days of the Kumbh Mela, especially important bathing festivals, are held peacefully," he said.

Earlier, the chief minister had visited the Allahabad Junction railway station where the stampede had occurred on a stretch of foot over-bridge leading to platform number 6.

The chief minister's visit came about a couple of hours after UP Governor B L Joshi had met the stampede victims and made a solemn appeal to "the people of the city of Allahabad" that they "offer a helping hand to the family members of the injured people who may have come here from far-off places".

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