NEW DELHI, April 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Tragedy struck in
Utta Pradesh's capital Lucknow on Monday afternoon when 21 poor women were
killed and several others injured in a stampede.
The stampede broke out during distribution of sarees on the occasion of senior Bhatariya Janata Party's leader
Lalji Tandon's birthday, reports reaching from Lucknow said.
Cutting short his election campaign in Jharkhand,
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is rushing to Lucknow, his constituency, to
have a first hand assessment of the tragedy that occurred around 2.30 p.m. at
Chandrashekhar Azad park where nearly10,000 women, many carrying their infants
and children, had gathered to collect sarees.
Senior Superintendent of police Rajiv Ranjan Verma
visited various hospitals where the injured were admitted and confirmed that 21
women died in the incident.
Tandon, the election agent of Vajpayee, had left the
venue before the incident took place, the Press Trust of India said.
The district magistrate said though the exact cause
was not known, excitement and clamor among the women to grab sarees could have
led to the stampede.
The state government has decided to give compensation
of Rs 100,000 to the kin of those killed, Rs 50,000 each to the seriously
injured and Rs 25,000 to those with minor injuries and has sought the Election
Commission's permission to hand over the money.
The prime minister expressed anguish and grief over
the incident and extended his heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families.
Eye witnesses said the stampede broke out when the
organizers announced that the function was over and that the women could leave
after collecting sarees from a counter near the exit gate.
Suddenly a large number of women jostled with one
another to reach the distribution point and collect the birthday gift, said
ashocked Komal Maurya, who was among the crowd. Enditem