College fests can't be fun if they're not safe

Updated: Dec 22, 2018, 05:39 IST | mid-day correspondent | Mumbai

A popular rapper performing there had to cut his concert short when the crowd-controlling barricades began to fall

A concert at a suburban college fest took an ugly turn when a stampede occurred and left eight students injured. A popular rapper performing there had to cut his concert short when the crowd-controlling barricades began to fall.

The venue had a capacity of approximately 1,000, but sources had told this paper that there were more people present than could be accommodated. We do not know how many passes were sold, but the number was certainly far too high to accommodate at the ground, as the stampede demonstrated. Overcrowded venues are a recipe for disaster. Whatever be the truth about the cause of the stampede, we can only be fortunate that things did not get worse and there were no deaths.

This should be a wake-up call for all colleges. Very strict monitoring of entry is needed at college fests. If a ground can accommodate X number of persons, only that many passes should be given, and not one more than that. Organisers have to ensure strict security at the venue. Often, we see security left in the charge of mere college volunteers. While this can be helpful in small gatherings of less than 100 persons, larger gatherings need professional security. The police, too, should be on call. Top-notch organisation and discipline is non-negotiable. Keep in mind that these are young people, in a tight space.

Tempers may run high, fights erupt and, then, certain unsavoury elements can enter and have free run of the place. Besides danger of injury, there is the very real threat of molestation and sexual assault, given the number of young students at these venues. Colleges must keep numbers in check, ensure security of the highest order, and have emergency services on call when they organise a fest.

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