Cusat syndicate panel probing stampede finds fault with organising committee

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A three-member panel appointed by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) to probe the stampede on the campus last month has fixed the responsibility on the organising committee for its perceived failures.

Four persons, including three students of the School of Engineering (SoE), were killed and 60 others were injured in the stampede in the rush to get into the open-air auditorium on the campus just ahead of a concert by playback singer Nikhita Gandhi on November 25. The event was organised by the SoE on the second day of Dhishna 2023, the three-day tech fest.

A meeting of the Syndicate held on Wednesday accepted the report submitted by the panel. The panel report found fault with the organising committee of the tech fest comprising students and selected faculty members drawn from various departments of the SoE for its alleged failure in make proper arrangements, including for crowd control measures, along the entrance that led to chaos in the last minute. The arrangements were found to be not in tune with the big ticket event it was supposed to be.

The organising committee failed to apprise the university authorities about the performance by the Bollywood singer and the crowd expected. The panel also found fault with the office of the university Registrar for not formally forwarding a letter from the then Principal of the SoE to the police. The letter had among other things sought to “deploy adequate security staff and police to avoid untoward incidents.” The Principal had since then been removed from the post.

The Syndicate has decided to seek explanations from the organising committee members for their alleged failures but has for the time being stopped short of any punitive action since the case is before the Kerala High Court. Action, if any, will depend on the court’s decision.

The panel has forbidden organising any major events at the open-air auditorium until the design faults are addressed. A recommendation has also been made to draw up a standard operating procedure, featuring among other things crowd control and mock drill.

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