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HomePoliticsNaidu's Late Entry, Insufficient Counters or Rumours? What Triggered Stampedes at TDP...

Naidu’s Late Entry, Insufficient Counters or Rumours? What Triggered Stampedes at TDP Chief’s Events


Last Updated: January 04, 2023, 13:22 IST

Sources said people had become impatient as Chandrababu Naidu reached the venue late. A few also said insufficient counters were set up to distribute the sarees. (News18)

Sources said people had become impatient as Chandrababu Naidu reached the venue late. A few also said insufficient counters were set up to distribute the sarees. (News18)

Soon after the stampedes, the ruling YSRCP blamed Chandrababu Naidu for the loss of innocent lives, while the TDP said police and the state government did not make the required arrangements

The Andhra Pradesh government has banned public rallies and meetings on roads after 11 people were killed and several injured in stampedes at two events organised by the TDP.

In the first event named ‘Idem Kharma’ at Kandukuru in Nellore district, eight persons died at a stampede that was triggered as the crowd rushed to meet party chief Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu’s open jeep was parked in a narrow lane beside a drain and the victims fell into it and choked to death.

At the second event in Guntur district after three days, three women were killed while trying to collect the sarees the former chief minister was distributing as Sankranthi gift.

Soon after the stampedes, the ruling YSRCP blamed Naidu for the loss of innocent lives. Sources said people had become impatient as Naidu reached the venue late. A few also said insufficient counters were set up to distribute the sarees.

The TDP, on the other hand, blamed the police and the state government. Speaking to News18, Prem Kumar Jain, national spokesperson for TDP, said: “The police and the state government did not make the required arrangements. TDP is always with the poor and our party president wanted to help them through these programmes. I request the state not to let these accidents happen again. We want Jagan Mohan Reddy to take responsibility for the tragic mishap.

“They are blaming Naidu for holding the event on a narrow road but it is the government’s job to finalise the route and make proper arrangements. Also, the second mishap occurred after Naidu left. Everything was fine when he was there.”

Stampedes, unfortunately, are a regular occurrence at religious and political gatherings in India. While the blame-game continues, it is difficult to find the exact reasons behind the mishaps without a thorough analysis.

Professor Ashish Verma is the convenor for the Indian Institute of Science’s Sustainable Transportation Lab (IST Lab) which has been doing extensive research on crowd safety and control in mass gatherings.

Speaking to News18, Verma said: “The actual reasons for recent stampedes in TDP meetings can be understood only after a thorough scientific analysis. However, in general, situations of crowd risk could be due to combination of factors that includes impact of fundamental parameters (speed, flow, and density), behavioural and psychological triggers, weather related factors, etc.”

He added: “It has been observed from past studies that high density is an important factor that can pose a threat to the crowd. Further, people in crowds are often in social groups. To keep the group together during crowd movement, members try to follow their fellow members, save them if they are in danger, limit their speeds to keep up with the group’s average speed, and so on. These behaviours can have an impact on general crowd movement and pose safety and comfort issues to non-group members.”

Verma also blamed psychological triggers for crowd risk. “Rumours have triggered people to escape the situation, thus leading to stampedes. For example, the Mumbai railway bridge collapse in 2017 was due to a rumour that the bridge was collapsing. Understanding the emotions and anxiety levels in a crowd requires studying the psychological variables. People in mass gatherings tend to become impatient and intolerable because of waiting, postponement of events, or delay in achieving their goal, among other factors.

“They tend to become aggressive, especially in crowded places, which can lead to dangerous situations in the crowd. Apart from these, there are other factors that contribute to mishaps, such as environment and weather conditions.”

So, in the second TDP event, did a rumour about the saree stock getting over trigger the stampede? It is said that all hell broke loose after one of the barricades put up by police gave way. It now remains to be seen how the Andhra Pradesh government’s ban affects the ‘padyatra’ of Nara Lokesh — Chandrababu Naidu’s son — starting on January 27.

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