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Police lathicharge led to stampede: Sources

India on 17 October 2013
Location : Bhopal, India | Source : Times of India. Image Source: Times of India

BHOPAL: "I heard pilgrims screaming on the bridge that police were dumping bodies and throwing injured but alive children into the river. I rescued six children, including one from the river," said an eyewitness to the Ratangarh stampede Rajushree Yadav, 35, a member of the police gram raksha samiti.

Yadav, who lives in Datia, said five children were handed over to their relatives, and one girl aged two years was still with her. "I have no idea about her parents. She was crying through the night. I don't know what to do," said Yadav.

It was a spine chilling revelation, one that the police did not out rightly deny.

Asked about tossing of injured children into the river, DGP Nandan Kumar Dubey said, "We are investigating certain allegations. If anything is found, we would certainly take action."

Yadav was accompanied by her nephew, Kamal Kishore Prajapati, 21, also a member of the gram raksha samiti. "We saved a boy from drowning. We don't know who threw him, but we managed to save his life and handed him over to his family," Prajapati told TOI. Cops on duty said nobody drowned; however, bodies are surfacing as far as seven km downstream from bridge where the stampede occurred.

"These were demons in khaki. I have seen policemen dumping children into the river. It was a heart-wrenching scene," said Indel Ahirwar, 32, a resident of Bhander town in Datia. He also claimed police took three truckloads of bodies to an undisclosed location. "I counted 175 bodies on the spot and I am ready to testify before any court," he said.

Another survivor, Ashish Ahirwar, 15, a resident of Daboh village in Datia, told reporters that policemen pushed him off the bridge when he went to claim the body of his 5-year-old brother killed in the stampede. He suffered grievous injuries after the 20-foot fall. "I fell on my knees and begged the cops to allow me to take my brother's body home. But they pushed me off the bridge, saying I too should die," he said. Ashish was found injured by his elder brother Jitendra Ahirwar.

Santosh Mohore, 34, resident of Barka village Datia said, "I have seen two policemen pushing a teenage boy into the river. There was chaos and it all happened because they allowed vehicles on the bridge, spread rumours and resorted to lathicharge that triggered panic."

"I was there on the bridge and saw policemen dumping over two dozen pilgrims, some of themalive, into the river while I was searching for the body of my brother-in-law," said Geeta Mishra, 55, a resident of Bhind.

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