Five people were electrocuted and many others injured in a tragic accident involving a religious procession in western Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.
The incident took place in Rali Chauhan village of Bhabanpur in Meerut district, where a group of Kanwariyas, devout followers of Lord Shiva, were returning with water from the holy river Ganga in Haridwar.
As their vehicle enters the village, playing celebratory music, it bumps into a dangerously low-hanging high-tension line.
The high-voltage current charged the car and among the gathered crowd, knocking out fans one by one before anyone could react.
Chaos ensued, with villagers calling the power station to shut off the power supply, but for many it was too late.
A pilgrim named Manish was declared dead on the spot. Four more people have since died of their injuries, and five others are being treated at various hospitals in the region. The condition of the two injured persons is said to be critical.
The tragic incident sparked outrage among villagers, who blocked a road in protest. They demanded immediate action for this tragic accident due to the negligence of the officials of the electricity department.
“The accident was a result of negligence in preparations for the Kanwar yatra,” said a local resident, echoing the sentiments of many villagers. Villagers’ demands for accountability and justice indicate the tension in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The Kanwar Yatra is India’s largest religious gathering, attracting an estimated 10 to 12 million participants every year from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. Pilgrims known as Kanwariyas wear saffron robes, often walking barefoot alongside vehicles on the highway in a show of devotion.
In a similar incident, seven people, including two children, were killed and 16 injured after a religious ‘rath’ or chariot came in contact with overhead high-voltage electrical wires in Tripura’s Unakoti district last month.