Guarding Against Future Tragedies - Eastern Mirror
Sunday, July 21, 2024

Guarding Against Future Tragedies

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jul 09, 2024 12:15 am

The country urgently needs to frame stricter laws for organising public gatherings to prevent loss of life due to human negligence. Reports of deaths due to stampede or fire at social or religious gatherings have become commonplace in India. Incidents like these are almost always caused due to violations of prescribed safety rules. Yet, offenders manage to escape punishment in the absence of a law categorically meant for those responsible for such tragedies. The law should pinpoint dos and don’ts for both organisers and authorities empowered to grant permission for such gatherings.

For instance, the recent Hathras tragedy can be termed a collective failure as neither the authorities nor organisers made sincere efforts to ensure the safety of the people gathered at the religious event. According to reports, the ground on which the event was organised could accommodate only a few thousand people. The organisers also got permission to hold the event by assuring local authorities that they would keep the number of people well below the prescribed limit. But on the eventful day, more than two lakh devotees gathered in a small field, which eventually caused the stampede. This incident highlights the fact that the tragic incident could have easily been avoided if the authorities were strict in handing out permits and also supervised the event.

First and foremost, the authorities should have remained firm about the number of attendees and informed the organisers that permission for holding the event could be withdrawn at any time if attendance limits were exceeded. Secondly, according to eyewitness accounts, there were limited entry and exit points, which are crucial to evacuation in case of emergencies. The authorities should have identified the flaw much before the event began and asked the organisers to rectify it. Surely, such alertness on behalf of the authorities could have saved many lives.

Following the incident, the police have arrested some of the organizers. Meanwhile, ‘Bhole Baba’, the self-proclaimed godman, is reportedly yet to be located by authorities. While some argue that his absence from the First Information Report (FIR) prevents his arrest, others contend that as the event was organised under his name, attracting attendees who gathered to hear him, he bears a degree of responsibility for their safety. Regardless of ‘Bhole Baba’s current status, the focus should remain on ensuring accountability for the tragic event. This includes investigating the organisers and holding authorities responsible for any dereliction of duties or oversight in granting permits and overseeing the gathering. The law should take these aspects into consideration and establish comprehensive rules to penalise every guilty individual to avoid such tragedies in the future.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jul 09, 2024 12:15:10 am
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