Multan tragedy report: Inquiry panel holds PTI responsible for deaths

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 8:03:21 by


A three-member inquiry committee on Monday held Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) top functionaries in Multan responsible for the October 10 stampede and “mismanagement at Qasim Bagh Stadium” during the party’s rally.

The stampede itself led to the deaths of seven people and injuries to dozens more. The inquiry committee has handed over its report to the Punjab government for further action.

Under an agreement with the district coordination officer, PTI’s Multan district body had chosen the venue for the public gathering to be addressed by Imran Khan. For its part, the district government handed over the management of the stadium to PTI office bearers, an official associated with the committee said.

The stadium has a seating capacity of 25,000 to 30,000 but the PTI rally drew a crowd that was three times more than that. Such a big gathering is difficult to control. The stadium has six gates, each 11 to 12 feet wide and all gates were functional before the commencement of the public gathering, the inquiry said.

The inquiry committee pointed out that the stampede started during Imran Khan’s speech. The PTI chief was accordingly informed by the party leaders about the situation. The allegation that the district administration had closed four gates and switched off main streetlights leading to the stadium was found to be baseless as all gates were kept open and lights were on, it claimed.

The PTI district body set up a stage in front of one gate and it was reserved for VIPs, the inquiry revealed. The district administration handed over control of affairs inside the stadium to PTI management while the security and management outside were in the hands of civil and police administration, the inquiry committee added.

The report claimed that the arrangements made by PTI were poorly managed owing to an internal rift, because PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi had unofficially replaced the role of PTI district president Ejaz Janjua in management with his son Zain Qureshi two days prior to the gathering.

The move was largely unpopular with PTI city office bearers who failed to cooperate wholeheartedly with Janjua’s replacement. This led to poor arrangements for the gathering, the report said.

The political gathering kicked off at 9.30am and all duties inside the stadium were performed by PTI officials. The supply of electricity to the stage from where leaders had to address was from a generator and the Multan Electric Power Company supplied electricity at the stadium which remained on till 9.30 pm.

The inquiry committee recommended that in future no political gathering should be allowed inside the stadium and it should be at open space encircled by tents to avoid such an incident. As stampede started the city government used water jet which stopped people otherwise casualties would have been more if people had continued to rush for evacuation.

The Punjab government constituted the three-member inquiry committee, headed by Environment Secretary Iqbal Chauhan and DIG Ali Aamir Malik and the Home Department’s Special Secretary Dr Shoaib Akbar as its members.

PTI officials, however, rejected the report, hastening to add that party chief Imran Khan had demanded inquiry under a high court judge.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2014.

Lahore News Sources -2

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