LAHORE: Three female students were crushed to death and many others injured in a stampede after a musical concert at the Alhamra Cultural Complex, Gaddafi Stadium, on Monday night.
The concert was organised by the Punjab Group of Colleges for students of different campuses and over 5,000 students attended the event. However, an official of the Alhamra Cultural Complex, seeking anonymity, said the venue was packed with over 7,000 students, which was almost double the capacity of the venue.
Those who died in the incident include Maheen and Farah while the identification of third student could not be ascertained till the filing of the report. Those injured included Sana, Muneeba, Zoya and Nimra. The dead and injured were shifted mainly to the Services Hospital by the Rescue officials while theincident caused huge traffic mess on adjacent roads.
According to eyewitnesses, the stampede occurred when after the concert, the students were forced to exit through a small door instead of the main gate. They said a massive presence of eve-teasers also aggravated the situation as security guards resorted to baton-charge to control the situation. But the situation went out of control and a group of female students was stuck there and then some of them fell down and died of suffocation and were crushed.
The eyewitnesses said coming out of the venue, eve-teasers made their way into the girls’ crowd, which created panic among the girls and they tried to rush out to secure themselves. The baton-charge by security guards on the eve-teasers to protect the girls in addition to bomb hoax, apparently a mischief by the eve-teasers, aggravated the situation and the girls ran over each other, crushing more than a dozen girls in the process.
In the meantime, eyewitnesses said at least three girls died of suffocation after being crushed while several others sustained injuries and some of them also became unconscious. Some of the female students said the administration of concert and security of the venue failed to keep the eve teasers away from the venue, who in an attempt to get advantage of the situation caused the stampede.
The eyewitnesses told The News that there was no proper light at the exit point, which also added to the miseries of students trapped inside the venue who were trying to get out. It was learnt the concert continued more than the scheduled time and when it finished, everybody was in haste to get out of the venue, which caused the chaos.
The parents and family members of the students who were present on the spot to collect their wards were in miserable condition and condemned the college management for poor security arrangements. They were further perturbed when the administration and security advised them to visit the Services Hospital to locate the missing wards.
The venue was littered with shoes, jewellery, glasses and shawls of the trapped students. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also took notice of the incident and ordered an inquiry. It was learnt that renowned singers Atif Aslam, Arif Lohar and Annie performed at the concert.