AP: Stampede kills 3 in TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu's rally
In a tragic incident, three people died due to a stampede in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district during a political rally led by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. This is the second TDP event in four days where people have lost lives, reported NDTV. Notably, these political meetings are part of the party's preparations for the 2024 Assembly elections.
What do we know about the incident?
The tragedy took place after Naidu left the venue following the conclusion of the public meeting in Guntur, India Today reported citing police officials. It said the stampede was triggered during a gift distribution program organized by local TDP leaders. They reportedly gave ration kits and sarees ahead of Sankranti—the upcoming harvest festival—to people when a stampede occurred, killing three women and injuring many.
Police say barricade collapsed as crowd swelled
Guntur Superintendent of Police Arif Hafeez claimed adequate protection was given to the event, but the crowd swelled, breaking a barricade and leading to the stampede. "Two-hundred policemen and rope parties were deployed. The incident happened because of the barricade collapse at the first counter...the deputy superintendent of police was on the spot at the moment and has rescued a few women," he added.
Naidu expressed grief, announced compensation
Calling the tragedy "extremely unfortunate," Naidu announced Rs. 5 lakh compensation for each family who lost a loved one in it. Naidu has been organizing a number of political meetings across the state to prepare for the 2024 Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections. After the incident, the party faced criticism for holding the public gathering without proper planning, while the TDP blamed the state government.
Political blame game begins in AP over incident
Reportedly, AP's ruling YSR Congress Party leaders criticized the TDP over the incident, claiming the stampede happened because Sankranti gift kit distribution was delayed. They alleged people were waiting for hours and grew impatient, reported NDTV. The TDP chief's "publicity mania," according to Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy, is what led to the catastrophe. He also called for a public apology from Naidu.
Government failed to provide security: TDP state head
Meanwhile, TDP state head Kinjarapu Atchannaidu criticized the state government for failing to make adequate security arrangements for crowd control. Notably, the ruling YSRCP has been under pressure since Naidu scaled the number and pace of TDP rallies and political events. Some political analysts believe the large number of attendees at Naidu's event signifies the TDP's revival after the party's humiliating loss in 2019.
A similar incident last week
Earlier, during Naidu's roadshow on Wednesday, a near-stampede incident in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh claimed the lives of eight persons, India Today reported. As people in Kandukur awaited the arrival of Naidu for a roadshow, some persons fell into an open canal. Naidu immediately called off the meeting and offered the relatives of the deceased a total compensation of Rs. 24 lakh.