Hathras crush clean chit for Baba: Suspended officials | India News

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HATHRAS: While Uttar Pradesh govt has suspended six officials for the stampede that resulted in 121 deaths in Hathras on July 2, self-styled godman Surajpal Singh alias Bhole Baba, who was delivering a sermon at the venue, has not been implicated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has attributed the tragedy to the “organisers’ fault and negligence by police and administration”.
“The SIT report has certainly given a clean chit to Bhole Baba in the incident. Action has been taken against officials and organisers; mostly sevadars (volunteers) have been arrested. Several people interviewed by the SIT blamed Bhole Baba, but he has not been named as an accused in the FIR or in the SIT report,” one of the suspended officials said.
Another senior official noted, “Bhole Baba has significant influence among the Dalit community… There could be apprehension in taking action against him. Besides, action against Baba could incite unrest. For now, he faces no charges at all.”
As reported by TOI earlier, some eyewitnesses interviewed by a three-member judicial panel had said that “the stampede would have been averted had Bhole Baba not asked the gathering to collect dust from beneath his feet”.
One of the eyewitnesses had said, “He could have used a microphone to ask his devotees to stay calm. Instead, he got into his car and left the venue.”
Outside Bhole Baba’s Kasganj ashram, Mukesh Verma, a follower, said on Tuesday, “Baba connects with the poor and underprivileged. While he is not politically aligned, action against him will be politically costly for the govt.”
Bhole Baba’s lawyer, A P Singh, denied that the preacher was evading police. “He has never hidden. He believes in the law and is following police directions. Anti-social elements in the crowd caused the stampede. Baba will participate in the investigation.”
On Friday, advocate Singh he had said that “a group of 10-12 miscreants had poisoned the gathering as autopsy reports showed asphyxiation, not injuries, as the primary cause of deaths”.

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