|Funeral procession of Syyedna|
MUMBAI: A stampede killed at least 18 people as a large crowd gathered after hearing the news of Syyedna Burhanuddin’s death at his residence to pay him to pay their last respects to octogenarian spiritual leader. Police said, more than 40 persons were injured in the chaos that erupted shortly after midnight. Syyedna was due to celebrate his 103rd birthday in a few weeks.
“Organisers had closed the gates of his residence. The crowd was so huge that people started suffocating, some fainted and then people began running and falling on each other in a panic,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Dr. Satyapal Singh told reporters. He admitted that police and organisers did not anticipate such a huge turnout of his admirers at the night and therefore there was a lapse in crowd control. Singh added that he had ordered a thorough investigation into what led to the pre-dawn disorder.
Stampedes at religious event are common as large numbers of people pack into congested areas. Panic can spread quickly and, with few safety regulations in place, the result is often lethal.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters: “I feel very sorry about the tragic incident”, and expressed his condolences for the 18 deaths.
Thousands adorned in white caps gathered Saturday on the streets of Mumbai for the funeral procession.
Narendra Modi, who presided over killing of thousands Muslim in his Gujarat state in 2002, called the incident “unfortunate” on Twitter.
“Stampede near Syedna Sahib's residence is very unfortunate. Condolences to families of those who lost their lives & prayers with the injured,” Modi tweeted.
The latest disaster comes just months after some 115 devotees were crushed to death or drowned on a bridge near a Hindu temple in October when crowds panicked on rumours that the bridge was going to collapse in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
In 2006, another stampede outside the same temple killed 50 people as they crossed a river, prompting authorities to build the bridge. The state is ruled by BJP.
Some 102 Hindu devotees were killed in a stampede in January 2011 in the state of Kerala, while 224 pilgrims died in September 2008 as thousands of worshippers rushed to reach a 15th-century hill-top temple in Jodhpur.