Varanasi: 24 killed; rumours of bridge collapse led to chaos, claim organisers

CHANDAULI/NEW DELHI:  24 people reported killed in a stampede at Rajghat bridge on the border of Varanasi and Chandauli where a large number of people had gathered for a religious event on Saturday afternoon.

The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp, police said.

About one lakh devotees took part in the procession despite the fact that permission was sought for a gathering of only 3,000 people.

People from different places participated in the procession moving towards Domari village to join the assembly. The entire route witnesses a massive traffic jam due to the huge gathering of people. The stamped occurred when people were moving downward from the Rajghat bridge causing deaths of men and women.

One person died due to suffocation on the bridge because of the surging crowd on the narrow Ganga bridge leading to rumours which resulted in the stampede, ADG law and order Daljit Chaudhary said.

Spokesman of Jai Gurudev Sansthan Raj Bahadur said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp, but police started sending them back though they kept on thronging the bridge.

This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed leading to stampede, Raj Bahadur said, alleging there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.