Cusat tragedy: Let experience be a lessontext_fields
The tragedy that took place at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), Kalamassery, is extremely unfortunate. Four people, including three students, died on the spot. The incident occurred due to a stampede just before the start of the concert organized by the School of Engineering. The students thronged outside the auditorium, where the Tech-Fest was being held, which included a concert by Bollywood singer Nikita Gandhi. They rushed in together and some fell on the stairs leading to the hall. Students continued to rush inside with many falling on those already lying on the floor. The festive evening thus quickly turned to a moment of sorrow. It is not possible to foresee all the risks of accidents in such large events. There were more people than expected who came to attend the event. The sudden downpour, the rush when the gates were opened and lack of knowledge about the steep stairs inside the auditorium are all factors that led to the tragedy. Volunteers were in charge of the event organised by the students. Teachers were also present and there were only a few police officers. None of this is unusual or unnatural. At the same time, prudence and rethinking are important when such incidents occur. It is only when one realizes the aspects where it went wrong and also considers what could have been done differently, that one can avoid recurrence of such tragedies. After all, the positive side of such tragedies is the lessons they give. The higher education department has announced a probe into the matter. One can expect self-introspection to be conducted at the university level as well. Although lives that are lost cannot be recovered, these investigations will be a guiding light for the future.
It goes without saying that when organizing events where thousands gather, especially ones like concerts filled with excitement, the planning and preparation for the program should have been more precise. There were also shortfalls in identifying the possibilities of accidents. The throngs of people being unaware of the delay in the event led to an increase in the rush outside the auditorium. After controlling the crowd without opening the gates fully, matters went fully out of control when the gates were opened suddenly. These seemingly trivial things in the planning phase are what lead to serious pitfalls when tragedy strikes. The method of reviewing essential safety standards should be carried out before every program. Since such events are normally conducted safely, it is natural for some laxity in taking precautions. When the students organise and conduct such events, supervision by teachers as seniors with more experience is also required. If there is one factor to be pointed out as the cause of the Cusat tragedy, it is the crowd that had no idea about the steep stairs - and that it was not foreseen. It is those inside the campus who can be more cautious and vigilant. It is meaningless to blame anyone for the unfortunate incident that occurred due to inadvertent and unexpected circumstances. Instead, there should be reflection and self-introspection which are necessary to recognize the shortcomings and avoid pitfalls.
It will pay to regularly inspection basic facilities, including building systems, for safety standards in institutions with more people. It is not possible for the police, despite their skills and resources, to always be everywhere; nor is it necessary. However, organisers need basic 'crowd management' skills and facilities in public spaces. In Cusat, it is this aspect which went wrong. Providing people with the required information and guidance when necessary is equally important as crowd control. Facilities and training to handle emergency situations will help reduce losses. The fact that tragedy struck despite all preparations for an exhilarating concert in Cusat, points towards the importance of a more precise and detailed preparation. May the tragic incident serve as a reminder to develop more robust organizational skill. And may the departure of souls, cut off like a song half-way, be meaningful at least in this sense.