A public interest litigation was moved before the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court Tuesday, seeking a high-level judicial probe into Sunday’s stampede at the Kumbh Mela that left 36 dead and 39 injured.
The division bench comprising Senior Judge Uma Nath Singh and Justice V K Mathur directed both the state government and central governments to submit all official records relating to the preparations for the on-going 55-day festival by Wednesday. The hearing in the matter will be held on February 20.
Petitioner-lawyer Prince Lenin, who is known for taking up issues of public interest, has sought to point out that the administrative inquiry ordered by the state government was likely to be just a perfunctory and wishy-washy exercise without serving any purpose. “I have appealed to the honourable court to order an inquiry by a high court judge because that alone will ensure a free, fearless and impartial probe into what was one of the gruesome tragedies in recent times,” Lenin told this scribe.
Alleging “total lack of coordination between different functionaries of both the state and Central governments in the organisation of the mela as also their complacence and neglect”, the petitioner urged the court to summon all official records including copies of minutes of the meetings held at various levels in connection with the organisation of the mela.
He also raised key questions like the whereabouts of various top Allahabad officials including the divisional commissioner, district magistrate, inspector general of police DIG, SSP as well as senior North Central Railway officials at the time of the stampede.
Another issue raised in the PIL is the inordinate delay in starting relief operations and the absence of senior officials at the scene of the tragedy even hours after the stampede occurred.
The bench has also asked the attorney general of India to assist the court when the matter is taken up for hearing on February 20.