Health Minister V Rajani said a woman died on the spot while two others succumbed to injuries while being shifted to a hospital.
A police official said that as soon as the organisers started distributing gifts, including sarees, the crowd swelled and they pushed the barricades away leading to a stampede. The gift distribution began after TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu left the venue upon addressing the public meeting at Guntur, about 33 km from here.
Expressing shock over the incident, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said that the government would stand by the families of the victims. In a statement, he ordered swift medical treatment to the injured.
Health Minister V Rajani alleged that the TDP campaigned for the past 10 days to woo people, assuring distribution of gifts.
“Three lives have been sacrificed for Naidu’s publicity mania,” she told reporters at the hospital where the injured are being treated in Guntur.
Though this was a private programme, the state government has provided enough security. “Chandrababu Naidu should own up the responsibility for the deaths,” Rajani said.
A woman who has been admitted to hospital told reporters that they were given a token-like slip earlier in the day and they went to the venue of TDP’s meeting to collect gifts.
Suddenly there was lot of rush and in the melee, people fell on the ground leading to deaths.
Guntur East MLA Mohammad Mustafa squarely blamed Naidu for the incident.
Quoting reports, he said three people died and he had no idea on the number of people who were injured.
“I request the state government to stop this kind of activities, because they (TDP) are playing with people’s lives. We just saw the incident in Kandukuru,” the legislator said.
After the December 28 incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said he was pained by the mishap and announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
The state government also announced a similar package to the victims.
YSR Congress Party general secretary and advisor to government (Public Affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, in a statement, had blamed TDP and its chief Naidu for the tragic incident.
Addressing the media on December 29, he said Naidu “deliberately” held the rally in a narrow lane in order to capture the visuals through drone shots to show a huge crowd for his meeting, the ruling party said. However, Naidu’s “self-promotion mission” failed miserably and led to the “murder” of eight innocent people while injuring several others, he had said.