Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy blamed Chandrababu Naidu for the deaths.
Three women died in a stampede at a rally by Telugu Desam chairman and former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. This is the second incident in the space of four days in which people have lost their lives at a public event of Mr Naidu’s Telugu Desam party, which has held a series of political meetings across the country. State in view of the 2024 legislative elections in the State.
Mr Naidu said the incident was extremely unfortunate and announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for each of the families who lost their loved ones.
A senior Andhra Pradesh police officer told NDTV that the public meeting was over and Mr Naidu left his place of residence when the tragedy happened.
After the public meeting, there was a program by local Telugu Desam party leaders to distribute sarees as gifts from Chandrababu Naidu to women for Sankranti, the harvest festival to be held in two weeks.
“Some 4,000 women had gathered to get the Chandrababu Sankranti Kanuka. Barricades had been erected, so the queues could be maintained. On the other side, packets of dinner were distributed. Suddenly a barricade gave way and the stampede happened,” the officer told NDTV. .
Guntur’s police chief told reporters that sufficient police protection was given to the program.
“200 police and roped parties have been deployed. The incident happened because of the collapse of the barricade at the first counter… the Deputy Commissioner of Police was on site at the time and rescued a few women,” he added.
On Wednesday, eight people – including a woman – died in a near stampede in Nellore district during a roadshow by the former chief minister. Several people fell into an open canal as residents of Kandukur waited to catch a glimpse of Mr Naidu, who was coming there for a roadshow.
Mr Naidu immediately canceled the meeting and announced Rs 24 lakh compensation to the families who lost their loved ones. Mr. Naidu then continued his political meetings, which drew criticism.
YSR Congress leaders said off the record that the stampede happened due to the delay in the distribution of Sankranti Kanuka kits. People waited for hours and became restless, they alleged.
Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy blamed Telugu Desam party leader for the deaths, saying his “publicity mania” caused the tragedy, and demanded an immediate and public apology. Today he expressed his shock at the stampede in Guntur. Officials have been instructed to provide all possible medical assistance to the injured. He assured that the government supports the families.
TDP State Unit Chief Kinjarapu Atchen Naidu blamed the state government for not making “proper” security arrangements to manage the crowd.
Mr Reddy’s party has been under pressure since Mr Naidu upped the pace of his political rallies and meetings. Massive crowds at its programs are seen as an indication of the resurgence of the TDP, which faced a crushing defeat before the YSR Congress in 2019.
Mr Naidu said the 2024 election would be his last if people did not re-elect his ruling party.
Mr. Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh is soon to start a walk which is expected to be a platform for the youths. The 400-day march, which will cover more than 4,000 km, starts from January 27.
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