The announcement that Rs 20 and a ‘katori’ would be given after ‘shradh bhoj’ at Mangarh ashram of Jagatguru Kripaluji Maharaj drove people from nearby six villages to reach the ashram where, instead they got death and bereavement.
It was just the greed which brought these poor villagers to the ashram. A Government official puts the things in right prospective when he said: “People in these areas are so poor that Rs 20 and a ‘katori’ was like a gold coin for them. Thus, they came in hoards bringing children with them believing more the people more money and utensils they would get for their homes.”
Children even did not go to schools that day where generally they get meal under mid-day meal scheme. They were eyeing ‘bhoj’ followed by free gifts.
The death struck six villages in and around Mangarh, in Kunda, where Jagat Kripaluji Maharaj has a sprawling ashram. The message was conveyed through word of mouth that free gifts would be distributed during the ‘shradh’ ceremony of the Padma, wife of Shree Maharaji, as Jagatguru Krapialuji Maharaj is known among his disciples.
The message was like a divine word for the villagers from Sahmai, Kashipur, Mangarh, Bahorikpur, Ittora and Kazipur villages. They saw a fortune in this message as majority of the villagers in these village are poor. The Government records say that over 10,000 BPL families live in these six villages while the actual number of destitute could be much more.
Premnath brought all his four children aged between 4 and 11 with him from Ittora village, about six kms from the ashram in Mangarh. He lost all his children to the stampede.
Kamla had come to the ashram along with his two children and had also brought her eight year old niece with him. Kamla is recuperating in Jagatguru Kripaluji Maharaj ashram but the three children have died.
Sukhai Ram lost his wife and two children in the stampede. All of them have come to get free gift.
What could be more insensitive was Chief Minister Mayawati’s response where she did not miss an opportunity to play politics. She said the state does not have money to pay compensation to the bereaved families. Instead, she asked the Union Government to announce relief for these families.
What could be more disgusting when she announced Rs 1 lakh as compensation for the family members of those who died in recent hooch tragedy.
My Editor succinctly puts it: “The message is clear. Drink daru and get compensation.”