KARACHI : The fourth edition of Solis, the EDM festival that took place in PNCA Islamabad on Saturday, turned into a nightmare half-way through the night.
Following the several accounts that were shared on social media, an FIR is being registered against the organisers by the Deputy Commisioner Islamabad (DCI), according to their Twitter handle.
— Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (@dcislamabad) February 16, 2020
A user wrote, “A woman attending Solis last night shared her horrifying ordeal. She and her friends were harassed and sexually assaulted by male concert-goers, gatecrashers. They were injured by a falling platform. Event organisers failed on every level. Who’s going to answer for this?
In response, the DCI announced, “Our report is ready. An inquiry is under process with the Islamabad Police. The company is already blacklisted and will not be allowed any future event in Islamabad.”
Organisers’ response to the FIR
Syed Shabbar of Full Circle, the company mentioned on the Solis ticket booking website told The Express Tribune over an email, that they were in fact looking forward to the investigation, in order to find out who is responsible for the fake tickets.
He said, “The Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad is doing what he needs to do to protect his citizens and we will always stand by and respect that. We have nothing to hide and we know we did everything by the books. In fact, we hope this investigation reveals who exactly is behind the issuing of fake tickets.”
Shabbar added, “Unfortunately the actions of individuals responsible for producing fake tickets, determine the fate of entertainment in Islamabad. They raised question for both the attendees who no longer feel safe to attend, and for event organisers, who feel discouraged to perhaps do this again.” We started our first ever show in Islamabad which was a huge success, so yes it definitely hurts us that it has to be this way.”
As far as accommodating the people who were injured during the event is concerned, the organisers have said, “We’ve sustained losses on both sides. Our attendees had the full support of our medical personnel on site. Our medical personnel was available right away to assist those injured however it is possible that in the chaos, some attendees may have tried to leave the venue right away and didn’t have the opportunity to be treated on the spot.”
“On the night, we assisted 12 – 15 people that came to us with bruises and scratches but we didn’t have any serious inquiry for our ambulance support though we also had ambulances on standby.
Why did it happen?
Frieha Altaf, the CEO of Catwalk PR, who was also present at the event to support her son, Turhan James’ performance, said the situation had little to do with the security and more to do with the mob culture that prevails in Pakistan.
“Everything was fine until the gatecrashers ruined things for everyone. The VIP lounge is built according to the amount of people it must accommodate, otherwise it will crash. The venue was also in a red zone, right behind Marriot, which means there was strict security. However, the amount of people that crashed the event was clearly unexpected,” she told The Express Tribune. “As far as the DJ’s not stopping their performance amidst the chaos is concerned, FDVM made three announcements, none of which were heard. But that’s all they can do…it is not their job to save people.”
According to first-person accounts shared on Twitter by people attending the event, a mob crashed the show and ran all over the place, which eventually fell in – literally. The VIP lounge crashed and incidents that followed have also been shared on Instagram through certain influencers and females who were ‘robbed’ and ‘harassed’ while being unconscious.
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15.02.2020 its just 30 minutes in, we’re at the front dancing and I BLACKOUT what I realize next is the entire vip lounge COLLAPSING. it was almost 7 feet high and i lost consciousness for a minute bec ig that’s just how your brain responds. i remember as soon as i regain consciousnesses half a minute later i’m in trauma, unaware of what just happened, me, my sis, my brother and my friends are helplessly trying to get up, i swear i couldn’t figure out what’s happening, ALL I REMEMBER IS ME STRUGGLING TO GET UP and a guy starts snatching my bag, (i was wearing a crossbody bag and it was in my neck) i literally thought I’d suffocate or my neck’s going to break and the guys there pick up the grill and start pushing it back while we’re stuck in it. my sister’s screaming and so is my friend. i look at @saishaa.g and her leg’s stuck underneath the grill and some guy’s on top of her. my sister’s phone fell somewhere there and it’s lost now bec somebody picked it up. we’re panicking, getting stamped upon and literally no ones helping bec in this moment these filthy frustrated assholes get a chance and start touching, groping and harassing us, it took me a moment to realise what they’re doing bec I was in absolute hysteria. my body was aching bec of the injuries. i was almost numb @solisfestival continued and the DJs didn’t even stop the music. my lil brother helped us all get up with his forehead bleeding and then we rushed straight out. what we see out is literally a group of men following a girl who’s walking her way in, a guy legit slapping a girl who accused him of harassing and a whole lotta other shit. we couldn’t walk. idk how we made it to the car but not a single person was there to HELP. we went straight to the hospital, my tissues and muscles of the leg are torn, my bestfriend got her leg fractured, my sister’s hands were bleeding and her thighs bruised. A TRAGIC SOLIS NIGHT ONCE AGAIN! WHERE ARE YOU NOW @solisfestival? IS THIS THE SAFETY YOU PROVIDE FOR A 10K TICKET? HOW TF ARE YOU PLANNING ON COMPENSATING THE PHYSICAL PAIN AND MENTAL TRAUMA, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, THE GRAVE LOSS OF A LIFE AND THE PAIN WE’RE STILL GOING THROUGH?
Shanza from Islamabad uploaded pictures of her and her friends’ bruises, coupled with a detailed account of how the VIP lounge, which was seven feet high, collapsed. This led to several people getting injured while some others took advantage of the situation and harassed the women who fell, along with robbing them.
“All I remember is me struggling to get up and a guy starts snatching my bag, (I was wearing a crossbody bag and it was in my neck). I thought I’d suffocate or my neck’s going to break but the guys there picked up the grill and started pushing it back while we were stuck in it,” she wrote on Instagram. “We were panicking, getting stamped upon and no one’s helping because in this moment, these filthy frustrated men get a chance and start touching, groping and harassing us. It took me a moment to realise what they were doing because I was in absolute hysteria.”
Shanza then went on to conclude that the “DJs didn’t even stop the music.” She added it was her injured brother who had to rescue them with a ‘bleeding forehead’ after which they rushed straight out.
The team behind Solis issued their first apology on Instagram instantly after, explaining the situation. “We had to make the difficult decision to stop the event due to the hundreds of individuals who fought their way through with fake tickets. This spoiled the night for everyone else that had purchased authorised tickets,” they wrote.
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For the 4th edition of Solis Festival, we were really excited to bring the festival back to home grounds- Islamabad. We had to make the difficult decision to stop the event due to hundreds of individuals who fought their way through with fake tickets. This spoiled the night for everyone else that purchased authorized tickets. As always, security and safety is at the utmost priority for our festival attendees, vendors, sponsors and artists. We want all our fans to feel safe and happy at every show, and because of the actions of these individuals we weren’t able to do so. We will be issuing a further statement at a later time, but for now want to thank our fans who purchased real tickets and came to genuinely enjoy the event.
But, of course, the damage had been done. The organisers then penned another elaborate note on their Instagram, while all the DJ’s also uploaded videos explaining why they had to cancel the festival due to the mob that crashed in.
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DEAR ISLAMABAD What was borne from a love of music and wanting to share a piece of the international music world to Pakistan, Solis provided entertainment that didn’t exist and became a community based on peace and unity, bringing together homegrown businesses that supported our economy and put Pakistan on the map. Despite all the challenges of putting together such an experience in Pakistan (the things you don’t see behind the scenes like finding the right speakers, pyro, the security gates that need to be built from scratch, to convincing our artists that Pakistan is indeed safe and beautiful), we made it happen. Not once, not even 3 times in 2019, but for the 4th time yesterday in Islamabad till the incident hours after doors opened. We chose the venue and our security based on the number of tickets sold and made arrangements based on this. We warned against fake tickets on numerous occasions. However, we underestimated the sheer volume of thousands of “fake tickets” that were being sold illegally. These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weight and destroyed our stage putting everyone’s safety at risk. To those that believed in us and came to genuinely enjoy the show, we are deeply sorry that this experience was ruined by others. We know that you came far and wide and we know how much you were looking forward to this event as we were too. For you, our true fans, we absolutely could not put your safety and security at risk and had to stop the event. What some of you didn’t see was the further damage these individuals caused after we shut down the event. Crores Of damage have set us back even further. WE are a community. WE are responsible for changing mindsets- together! While we will hold on Solis indefinitely in Islamabad, we will NOT let this define us. We will LEARN and PERSEVERE and keep giving Pakistan an experience they haven’t had before, much like we have done in the past. We will NOT let the actions of a few decide for the rest of us. We will be back.
The note added, “Despite all the challenges of putting together such an experience in Pakistan (things you don’t see behind the scenes, like finding the right speakers, pyro, the security gates that need to be built from scratch, to convincing our artists that Pakistan is indeed safe and beautiful), we made it happen. Not once, not even three times in 2019, but for the 4th time yesterday in Islamabad till the incident hours after doors opened.”
It continued, “We chose the venue and our security based on the number of tickets sold and made arrangements based on this. We warned against fake tickets on numerous occasions. However, we underestimated the sheer volume of them being sold illegally. These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weigh, destroyed our stage and putting everyone’s safety at risk.”
The organisers then apologised to the numerous people who entered the festival bearing original tickets, adding that their intention was to solely provide entertainment.
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