Local police to blame for stampede before Syedna funeral: Crime Branch report

Mar 11, 2014, 08:24 IST | Vinay Dalvi

The report says that the local cops failed to anticipate the size of the crowds that gathered at Malabar Hill to bid farewell to the deceased spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohras. 18 people died in the incident.

The Mumbai Crime Branch is wrapping up its investigations into the stampede that killed 18 mourning members of the Dawoodi Bohra community and injured 60 more in Malabar Hill on January 18.

Footwear of stampede victims outside Dr.Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin's residence. Pic: mid-day

The report, which is in the process of being drafted, pulls up the local police for not being prepared to tackle the huge crowds that gathered outside the spiritual leader’s house after his death.

The stampede took place when lakhs of Dawoodi Bohras had gathered to pay their last respects to late leader Syedna Burhanuddin, in the wake of his passing. “We have completed the investigations and recorded statements of several Bohra leaders and police officers present at the spot. Statements of around 100 people have been recorded. We have arrived at the conclusion that the local police failed to anticipate the strength of the crowds that would gather. They also erroneously assumed that the Bohra community, which usually manages its own security, would be able to do so even on this occasion,” said a police officer from the Crime Branch.

The members of the community did not have public announcement systems at their disposal. The location of Syedna’s house in a narrow lane, compounded by the decision to close the gates, led to the stampede.

The 250-page-long report will be prepared within the next two days. It will be submitted to incumbent Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and then to state Home Minister RR Patil, who had ordered the enquiry.

The Malabar Hill police, which was providing security on the day of the community’s farewell to its beloved leader, had expected that only 2,000 people would show up, but the crowd kept swelling, and soon spiralled out of the control.

“The local police should have barricaded the area or requested the community leaders to put the barricades. The community spread word through bulk messages, but the police were unaware,” said an officer.

This report includes a set of guidelines for all police stations, who will be asked to prepare a road map and plans for funeral processions.

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