An unofficial website of district Pratapgarh, UP, India

The curse of stampedes

Just checked an article by Joginder Singh at the pioneer website. I agree fully with his observations about stampede incidents in India. Whenever a tragedy of this nature occurs in our country, the Government of the day, as an afterthought, announces compensation for the next of the kin of the victims and those injured. Then the matter is forgotten till the next disaster strikes. It is worthwhile to note that such incidents of stampede occur mostly at religious places, and that too in Asia and Africa and never in developed countries.

Further from this article, It is not impossible to avoid deaths due to stampedes. The Government of the day knows very well as to where and when the crowds will assemble for a particular purpose. A district-wise list can be prepared of the festivals, programmes and events which are likely to attract huge crowds and where there is a possibility of a stampede. After all, if Republic Day, Independence Day and major sporting events can be conducted without any hassles in the national capital, it is surely possible to replicate this in other parts of the country.

It is true that the Government cannot deploy police personnel for every private function that attracts a large crowd. But it can definitely hold the organisers of such functions accountable to ensure that there is no loss of life or property during any programme organised by them.

In fact, they could be told to give details of the arrangements for a particular programme before they are given permission to conduct the same. In that case, if it is found that there is a space crunch, given the number of people attending the programme, the organisers could be instructed to scale down the number of people that they are likely to admit. It should also be made mandatory for the organisers to have emergency services such as ambulances and fire engines on standby during these occasions. Also, it could be made law that whenever there is a likelihood of a stampede at a public event, the function should be allowed only in an open area where the chances of people being trampled by a rampaging crowd are minimal. In this regard, standard rules could be worked out and implemented throughout the country for all public gatherings.

The Government can hold the organisers both legally and morally responsible for the safety of the crowds attending their programmes. It can lay down even the compensation amount payable by them to the victims in case of loss of limb or life. A godman’s representative, after a stampede, washed his hands of the whole thing by saying that whatever happened was ‘god’s will’. It is a convenient way to shrug off accountability. But the question is how long innocent people will continue to suffer due to these avoidable stampedes. The Government must have a vision and follow it up with concrete action to solve this problem.

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