An FIR has been lodged against Congress district chief Mirza Ashfaque Saqlaini and other unidentified persons following a "stampede-like situation" during a marathon organised by the party in Bareilly.
The event held on Tuesday, was held as part of the Congress party's "Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon" Assembly election campaign. Videos of the incident also went viral on social media.
Bareilly Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rohit Singh Sajwan said, "A case was lodged on Tuesday night against the organisers of the marathon after a probe by the district administration. A police officer said that three girls fell and sustained injuries during the marathon."
The case has been lodged under IPC sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and various other sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The SSP said, "We will identify others responsible for the event during further investigation."
City magistrate Rajiv Pandey said, "Permission was given for 200 children. However, the number of those who actually turned up for the event was much higher."
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) took suo-moto cognizance of the incident.
In a letter to the Bareilly district magistrate, NCPCR asked the district magistrate to submit an action taken report within 24 hours.
"The commission has taken suo moto cognizance from a news report wherein it has been brought to the notice of the commission that a 'women marathon' event was organised by the Congress in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh wherein during the programme, due to stampede-like situation, many children fell on each other. It is also noticed by the commission that the slippers and shoes of these children also got scattered," read the letter written by the Principal Private Secretary to NCPCR Chairperson Dharmendra Bhandari.
"An action taken report with regard to the status of treatment of the injured children in the said incident may please be furnished to the commission within 24 hours and a detailed fact-finding enquiry report may also be shared with the commission within 7 days of receipt of this letter," the letter stated.
The letter also claimed that prima facie, inviting children in such political activities appears to be in violation of Section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, and also a violation of Covid-19 guidelines issued by the state government.
The letter further stated, "Therefore, in view of the sensitivity of the matter, it is requested that your good offices may kindly look into the matter and initiate necessary inquiry to ensure the welfare and safety of children by lodging an FIR at the first instance, under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and relevant sections of lPC."
Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi alleged that the notice sent by NCPCR was part of a conspiracy hatched by the BJP.
"The women of UP have been empowered by the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi. The BJP is doing everything to stop the women from participating in politics. They are using the commission to target us. But we will not stop. Where was the commission when children were walking barefoot during the lockdown imposed due to Covid," said Awasthi.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader in Bareilly, Supriya Aron said, "People had gone for pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi and died there after the stampede. What will you call that? It is human nature to move ahead and reach first. These are young girls who are still in school and ran a little bit. I request the mediapersons that if anyone feels offended, I apologise. The entire media wants Congress to come back."