Families of India stampede victims ponder future after loss of loved ones

RAMNAGAR, India (AP) — The orange glow of the flames lit up the evening scene where Savitri Devi, 50, had just been cremated.

Devi was one of more than 120 people who died in the accident. Crowds flocked to the religious festival last week. In northern India, believers surged towards preachers, causing chaos among attendees.

of event Only 80,000 people were allowed in. It was unclear how many were inside the giant tents set up in a muddy field in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, but it was reported to be around three times that number.

“It’s a matter of fate. What does it have to do with Baba?” Bir Pal Singh said of his wife Devi’s death. Mr Singh was a volunteer with religious congregations. The couple had been followers of a Hindu guru known locally as Bole Baba for more than a decade.

It is unclear what sparked the riots. Yogi AdityanathThe pastor told reporters that the crowd surged to touch the preacher as he left the stage, and volunteers struggled to intervene.

Initial police reports said thousands of people had crowded toward the exits, many of whom slipped and fell on the muddy ground and were crushed. Most of the dead were women.

The chaos appeared to continue outside the tent, where people ran at the preacher as he tried to leave in his car, and more people fell as security guards pushed the crowd back, officials said.

Devi’s daughters, Bharti and Sonam, were inconsolable. “We are now orphans. Our mother has left us. Who will take care of us?” they cried. The women of the village embraced them and grieved with them.

“My parents believed that Babaji (the preacher) would remove all our burdens,” said Ajay Kumar, who is also an alumnus and used to attend Baba’s religious gatherings as it was a family tradition.

Deadly Rampage Relatively common Religious festivals in India draw large crowds in small areas with poor infrastructure and few safety measures.

Families then immerse the ashes of their loved ones in the Ganges River, an act Hindus believe will bring salvation to the deceased.

When asked if he would volunteer at Baba’s religious functions in future, Singh said, “I will decide when the time comes.”

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