stampede
Varanasi stampede: 19 killed, several injured during Baba Jai Gurudev sabha Pictured: A stampede in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh [Representational Image]IANS

At least 19 people were killed and several injured in a stampede at Rajghat bridge in Varanasi on Saturday. Of the 19 dead, 15 were females and four males, said a doctor. 

The crowd had gathered at Rajghat bridge, situated between Varanasi and Chandauli, for a religious event organised by disciples of late spiritual leader Jai Gurudev. The UP IG (Law and Order) Hari Ram Sharma confirmed that 19 people died in the stampede.

"Shocked to hear about the tragic stampede in Varanasi. Deepest condolences to families of the bereaved and prayers for those who are injured. Unfortunately, I will not be able to visit Varanasi due to BRICS 2016 here in Goa but have instructed necessary people to assist state government. I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. Varanasi is Modi's parliamentary constituency. 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced ex gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakhs each for the kin of those who were killed. Those who were critically injured will be getting Rs 50,000 each. 

Only 3,000 people were permitted to attend the gathering but 70,000 people were present, Inspector General of Varanasi zone SK Bhagat told ABP News. 

"There was a lot of chaos, even we were pushed. Many people have died including my mother," said an eyewitness.

"My deepest condolences to the families of victims of Varanasi Stampede. Praying for early recovery of those who got injured in the incident," said Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas ministry.