Tragic Stampede at CUSAT’s ‘Dishna’ Fest: Four Students Dead, Over 65 Injured in Kochi Concert Chaos

The stampede at the annual event organized at Kerala’s Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) on Saturday, November 25, 2023, resulted in the tragic death of four individuals and left over 65 people injured, with some in critical condition. The Kerala government has initiated an investigation into the incident.

The unfortunate incident unfolded during the three-day fest ‘Dishna,’ a regular event at Cochin University. On the second day of the fest, a concert by renowned playback singer Nikita Gandhi attracted a large crowd, despite efforts to restrict outside entry. The concert took place in an open auditorium adjacent to a canteen and student amenity center.

The gate for invited attendees opened at 5:30 pm, with scheduled entry at 7:30 pm. However, the crowd size surpassed expectations, and even those without passes managed to join.

The situation was exacerbated due to inadequate crowd management, compounded by sudden rain at around 7:00 pm. The gathered crowd, seeking shelter, rushed towards the indoor auditorium, leading to a stampede as some individuals stumbled on the auditorium stairs.

Reports suggest that only one gate was used for entry and exit, contributing to the chaos. Municipal Councilor Pramod noted, “There was a stampede due to the exit and entry from the same gate. During this time, those who were trying to enter inside trampled the fallen people.”

The role of the police in managing the crowd remains unclear. University VC PG Shankaran stated that the police were informed of the incident, but conflicting accounts arose regarding their presence and effectiveness. It is reported that students, who were also event organizers, took charge of crowd control as opposed to the police.

VC Shankaran mentioned that the auditorium, designed for 2000 people, accommodated 2500 students from the institute, in addition to local residents and students from nearby colleges. The police claim of only a partial filling of the auditorium is disputed by these accounts.

The four victims have been identified as second-year CUSAT students Atul Thambi, An Rufta, Sara Thomas, and Alvin Joseph from Palakkad, who did not study at the university.

In response to the tragedy, the Kerala government has ordered an investigation led by a three-member team, including the Principal Secretary of Higher Education and the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of Cochin University.

The team is tasked with investigating the stampede incident and submitting a comprehensive report. State Higher Education Minister R Bindu affirmed this commitment in an official release.


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