Expert panel to look into Cochin University stampede: Kerala govt

Kochi City Police Commissioner A Akbar said no official requisition was received from the university for police help

Kochi: The Kerala government on Sunday said it has decided to constitute an expert committee to look into the stampede during Cochin University's annual festival a day ago that claimed four lives and injured over 60 others. State Higher Education Minister R Bindu said the expert panel will also frame terms of reference to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future.

Besides that, reports have been called from the university Vice-Chancellor and Principal Secretary of the Higher Education Department regarding the tragic incident, the minister told reporters here.

She said the organisers were responsible for ensuring there was adequate preparedness for crowd control when such events were being hosted. She said any further action would be taken after receiving all the reports.

State Law and Industries Minister P Rajeev said police had issued advisories to all auditoriums in Ernakulam with regard to crowd control, but educational institutions were not included in the same.

He also told reporters that of the four dead, three were students of the university and the fourth was an outsider.

Meanwhile, Kochi City Police Commissioner A Akbar said no official requisition was received from the university for police help.

After the inquest proceedings were completed, the bodies of the three students -- Athul Thambi, Ann Ruftha and Sara Thomas -- were brought to the university campus for people to pay their tributes.

The fourth person who died was Palakkad resident Alwin.

A sea of people, including students and the general public, were queued outside the hall where the bodies were kept.

Ministers Bindu and Rajeev, former Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac and Congress MP Hibi Eden were also present among other political leaders to pay their last respects.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan condoled the deaths.

"Deeply shocked and grieved to know about the sad demise of four students at a stampede at CochinUniversity of Science and Technology. Heartfelt condolences to their families. Prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured," Khan said in a Facebook post.

Satheesan termed the incident as heartbreaking, while Muraleedharan said he was shocked and saddened by the deaths.

Alwin's family said they came to know about his death upon seeing his name on news channels about those who died in the incident.

Officials said the stampede occurred before renowned singer Nikita Gandhi was to perform at a musical festival in the open-air auditorium of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) near Kochi.

They also said that of the injured, two people were in critical condition and in the ICU of a private hospital. Besides them, three others were in ICU of the Kalamassery government medical college hospital and 31 were in the general ward there. All of them were in stable condition, they said.

Following the incident, Nikita Gandhi expressed her heartbreak and devastation in a Facebook post.

She had said that the incident took place before she could even leave for the venue for the performance.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an emergency meeting at a government guest house in Kozhikode in the wake of the tragedy and condoled the death of students.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

( Source : PTI )
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