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General Studies 2 >> Governance

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1. Context
The stampede in Hathras on June 2 2024 is another in a long line of tragedies manufactured by a lack of sense for science
2. What is a stampede?

A stampede is a sudden rush or flight of a group of animals or people, usually caused by panic or fear. In the context of animals, it often refers to a herd of large mammals like cattle, horses, or elephants running together in the same direction. For humans, it describes a chaotic situation where a crowd moves rapidly and uncontrollably, often resulting in injuries or fatalities due to trampling or crushing.

Stampedes can be triggered by various factors, such as:

  • Sudden loud noises
  • Perceived threats
  • Natural disasters
  • Overcrowding in confined spaces
  • Mass panic

Stampedes are particularly dangerous in crowded events or enclosed spaces, as people may be unable to escape the rushing crowd. 

3. What causes stampedes?

Stampedes can be caused by several factors:

  • Fear or panic: A perceived threat, real or imagined, can trigger a fight-or-flight response in a crowd.
  • Overcrowding: When too many people are in a confined space, even small movements can create a domino effect.
  • Poor crowd management: Inadequate planning or control of large gatherings can lead to chaotic situations.
  • Sudden loud noises: Unexpected sounds like explosions or gunshots can startle a crowd into fleeing.
  • Physical pressure: In dense crowds, people at the back pushing forward can create dangerous force on those in front.
  • Limited exits: When escape routes are few or narrow, people may rush to leave, creating bottlenecks.
  • Misinformation or rumors: False alarms or spreading of incorrect information can cause panic.
  • Environmental factors: Extreme weather, fire, or structural collapses can prompt rapid evacuation attempts.
  • Mob mentality: People tend to follow the actions of others in a crowd, amplifying panic.
  • Cultural or religious events: Large gatherings for festivals or pilgrimages can sometimes lead to stampedes if not managed properly
4. Major stampede cases in India

India has unfortunately experienced several major stampedes. Here are some notable cases:

  • Kumbh Mela stampede (2013): At least 36 people died at the Allahabad railway station during the Kumbh Mela festival.
  • Ratangarh temple stampede (2013): Over 100 people died near a temple in Madhya Pradesh when rumors of a bridge collapse sparked panic.
  • Sabarimala temple stampede (2011): 106 pilgrims died in Kerala during the Makara Jyothi festival.
  • Pratapgarh temple stampede (2010): About 63 people died at a temple in Uttar Pradesh during a free food distribution event.
  • Naina Devi temple stampede (2008): At least 162 people died in Himachal Pradesh when heavy rains caused panic among pilgrims.
  • Mandher Devi temple stampede (2005): 291 people died in Maharashtra during a religious festival.
  • Nashik Kumbh Mela stampede (2003): 39 people died during the holy bath ritual in Maharashtra.
  • Nagpur stampede (1994): 114 people died on a narrow bridge during a religious procession
5.Way Forward
Most stampede casualties are caused by traumatic asphyxia — there is partial or complete cessation of respiration due to external compression of the thorax and/or upper abdomen. Other possible reasons for stampede-related deaths include myocardial infarction (heart attack, caused by decreased or complete cessation of blood flow to a portion of the heart), direct crushing injury to internal organs, head injuries, and neck compression
For Prelims: Current events of national importance
For Mains: GS-II, GS-III: Government policies and interventions, Disaster Management
Source: Indianexpress

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