Three die in stampede at TDP event in Andhra, second mishap in a week

Earlier on December 28, eight people were killed in a stampede at a TDP rally in Nellore, and the ruling YSRCP has blamed Chandrababu Naidu for both incidents.
Stampede at TDP event in Andhra
Stampede at TDP event in Andhra
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On New Year’s Day, three women were killed and several others were injured in Andhra’s Guntur district as a large number of people rushed to receive gifts at a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) event, leading to a stampede. The incident happened less than a week after eight people died in a stampede at another TDP rally in Nellore district. In the Guntur incident, one woman died on the spot and two others succumbed to injuries while being shifted to a hospital, according to Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Vidadala Rajini. 

People had reportedly arrived to receive ration and clothes in the form of Sankranti Chandranna Kanuka (ration kit) and NTR Janatha Vastralu (clothes including sarees) to low-income families. A police official said that as soon as the organisers started distributing gifts, the crowd swelled and they pushed the barricades away, leading to a stampede. The gift distribution began after TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu left the venue upon addressing a public meeting at Guntur. 

A woman who has been admitted to the hospital told reporters that they were given a token-like slip earlier in the day and they went to the venue of TDP's meeting to collect gifts. Suddenly there was a lot of rush and in the melee, people fell to the ground, leading to injuries and fatalities. According to reports, the beneficiaries were made to wait for several hours beyond the time announced for the gift distribution. 

Expressing shock over the incident, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured in the stampede. The TDP meanwhile has announced financial aid of Rs 5 lakh to each of the bereaved families. The ruling YSRCP has blamed the TDP for both stampede incidents, alleging that the party has mismanaged the events for publicity, while the TDP has blamed the ruling party alleging that it failed to provide adequate security at the events. 

On Sunday, Health Minister Rajini alleged that the TDP campaigned for the past 10 days to woo people, assuring the distribution of gifts. "Three lives have been sacrificed for Naidu's publicity mania," she told reporters at the hospital where the injured are being treated in Guntur. Though this was a private programme, the state government provided enough security, she said. "Chandrababu Naidu should own up to the responsibility for the deaths," Rajini said.

Guntur East MLA from YSRCP Mohammad Mustafa squarely blamed Naidu for the incident. "I request the state government to stop these kind of activities because they (TDP) are playing with people's lives. We just saw the incident in Kandukuru (Nellore)," the legislator said.

After the December 28 incident in Kandukuru in which eight people died, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said he was pained by the mishap and announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured. The state government also announced similar compensation for the victims.

YSR Congress Party general secretary and advisor to government (Public Affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, in a statement, had blamed TDP and its chief Naidu for the tragic incident. Addressing the media on December 29, he said Naidu "deliberately" held the rally in a narrow lane in order to capture the visuals through drone shots to show a huge crowd for his meeting. However, Naidu's "self-promotion mission" failed miserably and led to the "murder" of eight innocent people while injuring several others, he had alleged.

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