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The Hathras Tragedy Reveals the Fatal Repercussions of Blind Faith and Incompetence

The Hathras Tragedy Reveals the Fatal Repercussions of Blind Faith and Incompetence

By Sara Nazir


The catastrophe in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, on July 2, 2024, is a stark reminder of our society and structural failings. The stampede at the gathering hosted by the so-called spiritual leader Bhole Baba, which killed 122 people, is more than simply a sorrowful event; it's a wake-up call to tackle the perilous combination of naïve faith, incapacity, and unaccountable authority.



Bhole Baba, true name Suraj Pal Singh, drew a startling 250,000 disciples to his ashram, considerably beyond the 80,000 people he had been permitted to welcome. This figure alone says eloquently about people's naive confidence in self-proclaimed godmen. The terrible irony is that these followers, who rushed forward to kiss the dust off Bhole Baba's car tyres, were trampled to death in a stampede triggered by the guards' aggressive attempts to stop them.

 

This catastrophe makes us reconsider the nature of our dedication. When does faith spill over into fanaticism? The devotion that drove these people to risk their lives briefly near their spiritual leader's car demonstrates a profound and alarming level of gullibility. It's a sobering reminder of how vulnerable individuals may be abused in the name of faith.

The Scandal of Impunity


The fact that no legal action has been taken against Bhole Baba is even more alarming. Despite the tragic loss of life, no First Information Report (FIR) was filed against him. This absence appears to be due to his links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), revealing a disturbing connection between political power and religious influence. This conveys a terrifying message: strong individuals, particularly those disguised as spiritual leaders, can act with impunity because of their political ties.

This issue of impunity is a slap in the face of the victims' families, who seek justice. It exposes a structural flaw in which the strong may avoid accountability while regular people bear the ultimate cost. It's an instance that has played out far too frequently in India, where political favour protects wrongdoers from the law.

The charges against Bhole Baba reach beyond mismanagement. Reports of sexual exploitation disguised as religious ceremonies are an indictment of his moral integrity. Sadhvi Vishwa Roopa's admissions of Bhole Baba's aberrant practices—using milk from his bathwater to make rice pudding for females followed by sexual exploitation—provide a gruesome picture of manipulation and torture.

These charges highlight the need for a thorough study of how spiritual leaders exercise their power. When faith is used to exploit and damage, it ceases to be a force for good and becomes an instrument of tyranny. The victims of Bhole Baba's alleged abuse deserve justice, and their tales must be made public.


A Call for Reform


The Hathras tragedy must serve as a catalyst for reform. First, there is an urgent need for strict restrictions to control huge crowds. The massive miscalculation of the crowd size in Hathras was a prescription for catastrophe. Authorities must enforce tight crowd control measures and make sure that permissions are provided based on realistic evaluations. Second, there must be a zero-tolerance stance against all forms of abuse by spiritual leaders. The claims against Bhole Baba should be properly examined, and if he is proven guilty, he must face consequences. The period of impunity for the powerful must come to an end.

The Hathras tragedy is a somber reminder of the devastating repercussions of naive trust, incompetence, and unchecked authority. It is a call to action for society to preserve the most vulnerable and hold those in positions of power accountable. We must guarantee that the deaths of those 122 people were not in vain, but rather a watershed moment towards a more just and responsible society. It is time to remove the veil of divinity from self-proclaimed godmen and hold them to the same standards of accountability as any other citizen. Only then can we avert such catastrophes in the future and restore trust in our shared humanity.

 

 

*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times   

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