Lahore's Kinnaird College administration to file FIR after stampede at Hasan Raheem, Asim Azhar concert

Updated 12 Mar, 2022 10:51pm

Azhar was not able to perform at the concert, said "people in the crowd [were] getting injured".

Photos: Hasan Raheem/Instagram and Kinnaird College/Facebook
Photos: Hasan Raheem/Instagram and Kinnaird College/Facebook

The administration of Lahore's Kinnaird College For Women plans to file an FIR after a stampede at an all-women concert organised on campus on March 11. Students have been taking to social media to decry mismanagement and one of the performers, Asim Azhar, said he was unable to perform because "people [were] getting injured."

The capacity of the amphitheatre where the concert was held was approximately 2,500 but over 3,500 tickets were sold, according to one of the organisers of the event. This led to chaos outside the venue, several people not being allowed to enter despite possessing tickets, and a stampede inside. At least one student was injured but the extent of her injuries is still unclear. The varsity administration said so far, they have received no official complaints. They accepted that one student had been injured and said the claims on social media were "false".

The university's Vice-Chancellor's Office confirmed to Images that an FIR will be lodged and said refunds for the concert tickets for those who were not able to enter the premises are under way. So far, the university says it has refunded Rs200,000 worth of tickets to women who had bought tickets but were not able to enter the amphitheatre. The administration has asked the organisers to refund the money to the students and issue an apology to the artists, especially Asim Azhar. A meeting was held on Saturday to discuss their course of action.

The Race Course Police confirmed that no FIR had been filed as of Saturday evening.

The concert lineup featured artists such as Hasan Raheem, Azhar, Risham Faiz Bhutta, Ali Arif and the band, Sami Khan and a surprise performance by actor Hira Mani. However, Azhar was unable to appear on stage.

Raheem and other celebrities shared clips from the event, showing a massive crowd.

Asim Azhar speaks out

Azhar took to Instagram to apologise to all the people who were "disappointed" that he couldn't perform and came specifically for him. "I was backstage the entire time with my team ready - but due to the issues of management and crowd control, they told us we could not perform. There were a lot of people in the crowd getting injured and they had to stop it," he wrote.

Azhar also wrote that the venue capacity could not hold the amount of people that were present. He also said that he had no "other choice but to listen to the management" as it was legitimately concerning. He called it as surprising for him as it was for the people who were there to watch him perform. "We are disappointed as you guys are. Trust me," wrote the singer while hoping that he meets everyone very soon.

The 'Ghalat Fehmi' singer wrote that sometimes thing are out of his and his team's control and that nothing makes him more sad than not being able to see and perform for his fans. He also clarified that his team had no idea about the ticket situation and that the management or the organisers are to be blamed in this case. "We are just artists who are called to perform. However we still apologise on the management's behalf as well," the singer wrote.

Azhar mentioned that if this had been controlled beforehand, nobody could've gotten injured. He also repeated on how "disappointed" he and his team were. The singer wrote, "we have also put pressure on the organisers to control the damages and get a refund for every person who bought the ticket and wasn't able to watch the rest of the performances due to THEIR lack of protocol."

He also lent support to those affected and injured at the event. "I'd love to help out in any way that I can. All love and prayers for you guys," said Azhar.

Organisers apologise

The 25-year-old singer's explanation came hours after the organisers, Top Ventures Events posted an apology and explanation of what happened at the concert. "To begin with, we want to apologise to the attendees who bought tickets to this event. In our defense, we stopped over 400 attendees with fake passes of the event and when the gates crashed due to excessive push from the crowd, hundred attendees entered the venue without tickets," wrote the organisers.

They also admitted that this caused injuries and distress to those who "had legitimate tickets" at the event. The organisers claimed that "attendees climbed over the walls, ripped through our security fencing and pushed through gates to enter the venue, causing management problems."

An organiser told Images on the condition of anonymity that the concert was held at the amphitheatre of the college and due to poor management there was a stampede. The show was organised by the business department of the college with some private sponsors involved. Azhar was asked to leave due to the stampede and could not perform, confirmed the organiser.

They also revealed that only two to three singers were able to perform at the event, including Raheem. There was a capacity of 2,500 people, but the management sold 3,500 tickets, said the organiser.

The matter was brought into the knowledge of the principal of Kinnaird College who called off the event immediately. The police confirmed to Images that they received a call to 15 and sent officers to the scene. The college administration said they called the police to control the crowd. Images could not confirm whether the administration made the call as all calls to 15 are anonymous.

Students outraged

A student who attended the event told Images that they waited for an hour or two in long queues outside the amphitheatre, waiting for the gates to open. When they did, the crowd got forceful and pushed each other to get to the gates, which resulted in a lot of chaos and confusion, she said.

The bouncers let some women in in batches, shutting the gates at intervals. The crowd was huge and the constricted movement led to some attendees “fainting and falling down.” The student mentioned that the security people were rather brisk and rude with crowd control and passed “derogatory remarks.”

She shared how she was personally affected by the “mismanaged” concert. “There were metal barriers outside the amphitheatre and my friend and I were standing very close to them. The security didn't open them, saying that the house was full and there is no more space. People kept pushing, my friend and I were pushed into the barrier which hit us so bad that I have a bruise. People were screaming in pain, crying, protesting and demanding refunds.”

She continued, “My scarf was displaced from my head, resulting in knots around my neck and I couldn't breathe. I felt as if there was no air — there literally wasn't — and I just couldn't take it anymore.”

The student said they were promised refunds nothing was done. “Then they said we'll refund your money if you show us your tickets, which didn't happen as expected.” When they announced they won't refund the money, a couple of girls went up to confront them but were met with shouts and verbal abuses, according to the student.

Many other students took to social media to share their outrage at the mismanagement.

The university management says it will release a statement on the incident.