“The media which became an important instrument of publicity and promotion brought its own share of misery and inconvenience to the public at large,” the report claimed.

Andhras Pushkar Ghat stampede Commission report absolves CM Naidu blames media
news Controversy Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 07:11

Three years after 29 people were killed in a horrific stampede at Pushkar Ghat  in Andhra Pradesh, a one-man commission has seemingly given a clean chit to the state government and said that 'excessive publicity' led to the incident. The Commission was constituted in September 2015 to probe the incidents leading up to the mishap in July that year, which led to the deaths.

It was widely reported that crowds had started building up on the first day of the Godavari Pushkaram at the Pushkar Ghat, but were held back, as Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu took a holy dip first with his family and close aides, for over an hour.

However, in a turn of events, the Commission in its final report submitted to the Legislative Assembly, claimed that Naidu was not even present at the spot when the incident took place and had already entered his van.

“Media, almanac pundits, spiritual preachers and seers carried out vigorous campaign that a dip at a particular point of time at 6:26 am on the day would fetch the devotees’ good results. Thus, they caused blind belief among the people. People were worried that they would not get that great result if they take a dip after that Muhurat. Hence the stampede,” the Commission report states .

“The media which became an important instrument of publicity and promotion of products and personalities brought its own share of misery and inconvenience to the public at large,” the report claimed.

It was also reported at the time of the incident, that Naidu was filming with a crew of National Geographic, which resulted in him taking a long time to finish his holy dip at the Ghat.

As Naidu and his security left, the gates were opened, following which a large crowd tried to squeeze through a narrow area, resulting in the stampede. Most of those who died were elderly women.

However, it is important to note that two days after the stampede, a report written by the East Godavari district collector and forwarded to the Union Home ministry and State Human Rights Commission, had stated that, "Heavy influx of pilgrims started increasing as time passed by and at around 8:30 am and the crowd from all directions started breaching the barricades set up for crowd control.”

However, the report also noted that, "Chief Minister along with other VIPs and other VVIPs took the first holy dip in the river Godavari at about 6:26 am in the Pushkar Ghat."

Many questioned the two-hour period between 6.30 am and 8.30 am that Naidu was at the Ghat for, even as a separate VIP Ghat had been set up for security reasons.

Meanwhile, the latest report of the Commission has not gone down well with opposition parties in the state, with the YSRCP questioning if the Chief Minister wrote the report himself.

“We reject the commission report as it is nothing but an eyewash and it overlooked the basic facts vouchsafed by the top officials immediately after the incident. The lapse of time does not change or alter the happenings and we blame Chandrababu Naidu not only for the stampede but also for trying to distort the facts,” YSRCP spokesperson Vasireddy Padma told reporters in Hyderabad.