Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at Ayodhya today spoke about the ghastly stampede of 1954 where a 1000 devotees lost their lives. Speaking at the election rally, PM Modi said that when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister and he had visited Kumbh, because of bad arrangements and security measures, a stampede had taken place where several people lost their lives.
जब पंडित नेहरु प्रधानमंत्री थे तो वो एक बार कुंभ मेले में आये थे। तब पंचायत से पार्लियामेंट तक कांग्रेस की सरकार थी।
तब अव्यवस्था के कारण कुंभ में भगदड़ मच गई थी, हजारों लोग मारे गए थे।
लेकिन पंडित नेहरु पर कोई दाग न लग जाए, उसके लिए ये खबर दबा दी गई: पीएम #DeshBoleModiPhirSe
— BJP (@BJP4India) May 1, 2019
PM Modi also said that at that time, the media did not have the courage to talk about this loss of lives. In fact, the people who lost their loved ones did not get anything from the government all. PM Modi also said that such things don’t happen anymore because of the better arrangements in Kumbh.
But was PM Modi right when he said that the Congress government back then tried to suppress the media and ensure that the evidence of the stampede is not shown?
The incident PM Modi invoked was that of 1954 where a massive stampede at Kumbh led to the loss of 1000 lives and the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had ended up calling a journalist, ‘ha******da’.
The lone photographer who survived the stampede published his eye witness account in a Hindi magazine. In his memoir published by ‘Chayakriti’ in 1989, NN Mukherjee described the stampede, the horrors he witnessed, Nehru’s presence at Kumbh on that day, and what made Govind Ballabh Pant call him a ‘h******a’ (b*****d).
In 1954, the Uttar Pradesh Congress government was led by Govind Ballabh Pant and he was the first Chief Minister of the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh.
The 1954 Kumbh was the first Kumbh mela of Independent India and the photographer recalls the bodies of 1000 people strewn about in the ghats and of 2000 others who were injured. He says that two days before Mauni Amawasya dip at Kumbh, the cholera vaccination had been stopped. As a result, a large number of people started entering the Sangam area from the morning on that day.
The then Prime Minister (Jawaharlal Nehru) and President Rajendra Prasad were supposed to visit Kumbh to take the holy dip and hence, all the administrative staff was busy making arrangements for the visit.
The translation of the work published the statesmen says:
“I stood on a tower near a barrier at the Sangam Chowki. At around 10.20 am, Nehru-ji and Rajendra Babu’s car came in from the Triveni Road, went past the barrier and headed for the Kila Ghat. A large number of onlookers, who had been stopped on both sides of the barrier, began breaking past the barriers down towards the ghat. A procession of sadhus was moving on the other side of the barrier. The procession went awry due to the influx of the mammoth crowd. When the mob came crashing at the slope of the barricade, it appeared like waves made by standing crops when a storm strikes just before they tumble. Those who fell could not rise again. The cries of “save me, save me” rented the air in all directions as people ran helter-skelter trampling others under their feet.
Many fell in a huge well nearby, and no one could come out. I saw with my own two eyes, someone crushing a three- or four-year-old child. There was someone trying to escape by swinging on the wires of an electricity pole. In a bid to take his photograph, I had to go over fallen people.
It is also surprising that even though more than a thousand people trampled to death, the administrative officials were ignorant of it because till these officials were enjoying tea and snacks at the Government House (today’s Medical College) till four o’clock”.