The court said the government's decision was a violation of the constitutional rights of persons from tribal communities, especially when there are thousands of landless tribals in the district.
The preliminary investigation into Saturday evening stampede at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) that claimed four lives has revealed lapses including on the part of the university authorities in implementing the Kerala High Court order on October 20, 2015, emphasizing that DJ performance and music programs conducted by agencies outside the college campuses, should be strictly prohibited, led to the tragedy.
Based on the High Court order in 2015, the Higher Education Department issued a circular comprising 19 directives. It specifically prohibited the involvement of external agencies, DJs, and music programs from any agencies outside the campus and was incorporated in the 12th directive.
The circular also mentions the need for organizing technical festivals as technical activities. Had the provisions in the circular been implemented; five precious lives would not have been lost. The University authorities also did not seek police security for the programme. Poor crowd management and having a single exit and entry point at the amphitheatre, also led to the tragedy.
Police are examining whether there were any organisational lapses. They are also investigating the presence of a large number of outsiders at the event. “Several people, including students from other colleges, may have caused crowding at the venue. This is also being probed,” said a police officer.
Meanwhile, a day after the Kochi City police said that the organisers of the tech fest conducted by the School of Engineering (SOE) of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT ) did not alert them or write to them seeking security for the event, a letter written by the Principal of SOE to the university Registrar, requesting adequate security and deployment of police has emerged.
The letter by the SOE Principal to the Registrar has ‘Police and security arrangement during off-campus musical programme’ as its subject. A copy of the letter had also been marked to the Head of the Department of SOE and the security officer, CUSAT.
The letter said that the programme was confined to the SOE campus except two activities – two musical programmes, one in front of the Amenity Centre on Friday, followed by the ill-fated music event that never took place due to the tragedy on Saturday.
“I understand that the students have received permission from the Registrar for these two off-campus activities. These activities have access to the public due to their location. Although I have arranged duties by faculty members for overall discipline, it is essential to deploy adequate security staff and police to avoid untoward incidents,” said the letter dated November 24, 2023, a day before the tragedy.
Meanwhile, the condition of the two girls who were injured during the stampede at CUSAT tech fest is critical. It is reported that Geetanjali from Alappuzha and Sheeba from Malappuram are still seeking treatment at the emergency wing of Aster Medicity Hospital. As many as 34 victims of stampede are currently under treatment.