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21 women killed in stampede in north India
www.chinaview.cn 2004-04-12 21:05:32

    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

    

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