Hathras stampede: Families grieve loss of their children

Satyendra Yadav was walking towards his vehicle after the 'satsang' when his wife called -- their three-year-old son Chhota had died in the stampede that had broken out moments earlier.
Hathras stampede,Families grieve loss of their children
Hathras stampede,Families grieve loss of their children

Hathras (UP) | Satyendra Yadav was walking towards his vehicle after the 'satsang' when his wife called -- their three-year-old son Chhota had died in the stampede that had broken out moments earlier.

The 29-year-old driver from Delhi had reached here with his family, including his mother and two sisters-in-law. Just before the programme ended, Yadav, along with his mother and elder son, Mayank (4), started walking towards his vehicle, a three-wheeler loader.

"As we reached my vehicle, I got a call from my wife...she said, 'Pilua thaane aa jaao, Chhota khatam ho gayaa hai' (Come to the Pilua police station, Chhota is no more)," Yadav told PTI.

The three-year-old son of Yadav, Rovin, was affectionately called as Chhota by his family. He was among the 121 people, who died in the stampede here on Tuesday.

Like Rovin, there are more families who lost their children in the tragic incident.

For the brother-sister duo Kaavya (3) and Ayush (9), the bus journey from Jaipur, Rajasthan, on Monday evening to the event venue here proved to be their last.

Both the grieving families said they never imagined that such an incident would take place at a religious gathering.

Yadav said he, along with his wife, their two sons and his wife's two sisters, had left Delhi on Monday night at around 11 pm and reached here by 5.30 am (on Tuesday). His mother had reached the event from their village in Etah, Uttar Pradesh, separately.

"It is indeed very devastating for me and my family," Yadav, who performed the last rites of his son in his village on Tuesday night, said.

Recalling some of the scenes from the stampede, he said, "I do not remember anything about the commotion that took place. Later on, I saw some people carrying a woman somewhere. I thought that she might have fainted (due to the weather), and hence she would be given medical treatment. I had not seriously thought about the incident."

"Then, I got a call from my wife. My voice was reaching her, but I could not hear what she was saying. So, I told her to come to the place where I had parked my vehicle," he said.

Sometime later, when he got another call from her, she, along with her sisters, was at the Pilua police station (in Etah) and informed him about Rovin's death, Yadav said, adding that he then informed his brother, who subsequently informed their father.

Later, a large number of people from Yadav's village, including the village pradhan, reached the spot, he said.

Meanwhile, Ramlakhan, who was accompanying his brother-in-law and the father of the deceased siblings -- Kaavya and Ayush -- Anad, to Shahjahanpur in a bus, said that he has yet not given the tragic news to him, fearing it would shock him.

"I came to know about the tragic incident around 5 pm. They (Kaavya and Ayush) had gone to the 'satsang' along with my wife, who is their paternal aunt. We belong to Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, but I work in Jaipur. The children, along with other family members, had left Jaipur on Monday evening and they had reached the programme venue by 6 am," Ramlakhan said.

"I was very attached to the children and on Sunday, I had spoken to them. This is a very tragic incident and a sad moment for our family. We had never expected that such an incident would take place. The children and family members had attended 'satsang' programmes on earlier occasions as well," he said, adding that he came to know that there was overcrowding at the venue.

"The father of Ayush and Kaavya is with me (in the bus). I have not told him about the tragic news so that he does not get a shock," Ramlakhan said.

He said that he spoke to his wife Rama between 5 pm and 6 pm on Tuesday, and it was the police personnel who facilitated the conversation as she does not have a mobile phone.

A stampede at a religious congregation on Tuesday in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh killed 121 people, most of them women, as devotees suffocated to death and bodies piled atop each other.

The stampede took place as the 'satsang' here ended. Some accounts said people slipped in the slush as they ran after the preacher's car, triggering the stampede.

The victims were part of the crowd which had gathered near Phulrai village in the Sikandrarau area for the 'satsang' by religious preacher Baba Narayan Hari, also known as Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba.

Around 2.5 lakh of devotees had gathered in the Hathras district's Phulrai village for the 'satsang', police said.

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