At least 24 people were killed and many were injured in a stampede at a religious gathering on the outskirts of Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi on Saturday.
The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp, police said.
About one lakh devotees took part in the procession despite the fact that permission was sought for a gathering of only 3,000 people.
A man died of suffocation because of the surging crowds, which led to panic. Rumours that the bridge had collapsed fueled more chaos, said police chief Javeed Ahmed.
"We are investigating crowd management and will take action against those responsible," Mr Ahmed said.
Spokesman of Jai Gurudev Sansthan Raj Bahadur said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp, but police started sending them back though they kept on thronging the bridge.
This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed leading to stampede, Raj Bahadur said, alleging there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.
Senior police and administration officials of Varansi and Chandauli have rushed to the spot to carry out relief and rescue operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi , who is also the MP from Varanasi, expressed anguish over the incident and asked senior officials to take stock of the situation. He also announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
"Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured," the PM tweeted.
"I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi," he said in another tweet.
Jai Gurudev, who died in 2012, is among several self-styled "godmen" who enjoy cult-like following among thousands of followers. The sect made headlines earlier this year when 24 people including two police officers were killed in violence at a park where devotees had been squatting for two years.
This is not the first time that a stampede has cost precious lives. In the recent past, during Mayawati’s rally, two women were killed and 21 people injured in a stampede at the main gate of the Kanshi Ram Smarak Sthal after BSP chief Mayawati addressed a huge gathering there to mark party founder Kanshi Ram’s tenth death anniversary.