PTI, Multan administration trade blame after 8 people killed in Qasim Bagh stampede

Published: October 10, 2014
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Crowds entering PTI rally in Multan. PHOTO: EXPRESS/SHAHID BASHIR

Crowds entering PTI rally in Multan. PHOTO: EXPRESS/SHAHID BASHIR

ISLAMABAD / MULTAN: Leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) traded blame with district government Multan after eight people were killed and over 100 others were injured as a result of a stampede in the party’s rally in Multan on Friday.

PTI chairman Imran Khan and vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned the incident and held the deputy commissioner of Multan responsible for the mishap.

“Shah Mehmood told me that DCO Multan, Zahid Saleem Gondal did not cooperate with the party while organising the rally,” Imran said.

Imran alleged that only two gates of the venue were opened at the end of the rally and the lights were also switched off. “Why did they not open the rest of the gates after the event had ended.”

He asked the Punjab chief minister to initiate an inquiry, and punish those who were involved in disorganisation.

“I urge Shahbaz Sharif to conduct inquiry and immediately suspend the DCO,” he said.

Qureshi, who visited the injured and the dead at Nishtar Hospital, held the Multan administration responsible, and asked why only two gates of the venue were opened, while the lights of the venue were also turned off.

“The Multan and Punjab administration are responsible, as there was no mismanagement from our side,” he claimed.

DCO claims five gates were open

Refuting PTI’s claims, DCO Multan said five gates of Qasim Bagh were operational, while 2,500 police personnel were also deputed at the venue.

Gondal added that the power supply of the ground was not cut, and the area was exempted from load shedding.

In a press conference, he said blame game was not reasonable, adding that all points were agreed upon in a meeting with PTI Multan president Ijaz Hussain Janjua.

Quoting the undertaking given by PTI Multan president, Gondal said the permission to organise a rally was granted after organisers agreed to abide by the agreement’s conditions.

He said the PTI agreed to arrange lights on the backside of the stage and to affix a barbed wire to restrict public from entering in the 23-feet radial gap from the stage.

“Proper lights arrangement will be made in the pandal, and along the sidewall,” reads the agreement, he said. “PTI officials told us that they use generators in their rallies, which were used in the Multan rally as well.”

The DCO added although the ground had no power supply connection, the local administration installed a connection a day prior to their rally.

Gondal said chief minister Punjab has already ordered an inquiry, after which everything will be clarified.

Sanaullah blames PTI leadership

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Rana Sanaullah blamed PTI leadership for the mishap, as he claimed that it was the responsibility of the party holding a rally to make the arrangements.

“They are just playing blame game and want to do politics over dead bodies of innocent men and women,” he alleged. “It was their responsibility. The party holding a rally is responsible for making arrangements.”

He said the Punjab government will register a case and investigation will be carried out as per law.

Qasim Bagh has six gates, but only three of them were operational due to security reasons. Gate one was open for everyone, gate two was open for families and the third was reserved for the entry and exit of PTI’s leadership.

When lighting failed, two gates were closed and only one was left open for the people to exit. Since crowds were massive, they moved towards the two gates resulting in the the mishap.

Out of the 115 injured, 41 are said to be critically injured.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Blithe
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:33PM

    Another FIR should be registered against Imran Khan and SMQ ,
    They are giving flimsy excuses but Pakistsni aren’t stupid . Just like nobody belived them when they attacked PTV

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  • Blithe
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:35PM

    One of the gates was reserved just for VIPs?!!?! What do you expect from these morons??? FIR must be registered against PTI leadership .

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  • farhan
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:35PM

    Sad event happened.

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  • bilal
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:50PM

    Finally PMLN and PPP have something to jump about. They are truly patethic ! Gates should have been opened when the Jalsa was over. Very very sad incident.

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  • Rambo
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:58PM

    Talk about VIP culture. One gate was reserved for VIPs. Shame on Imran Khan’s double standards, while he preaches against VIP culture, he himself wants VIP treatment. Had this gaye reserved for VIPs been allowed for normal people, these innocent deaths could have been certainly avoided. Imran Khan should resign from party chairmanship as the blood of these innocents is on PTI. Sad day.

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  • Rambo
    Oct 10, 2014 - 11:58PM

    Talk about VIP culture. One gate was reserved for VIPs. Shame on Imran Khan’s double standards, while he preaches against VIP culture, he himself wants VIP treatment. Had this gaye reserved for VIPs been allowed for normal people, these innocent deaths could have been certainly avoided. Imran Khan should resign from party chairmanship as the blood of these innocents is on PTI. Sad day.

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  • Anon
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:18AM

    As usual, it seems the Punjab govt was trying to play cheap tricks…. but I think even they didnt realise how deadly their games are going to end up being!

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  • Hatim
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:20AM

    It’s not even been a few hours and already the politics of dead bodies has started. Both PML and PTI should stop playing the blame game and wait for an inquiry. One of them will have to eat their words.

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  • Fatima
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:21AM

    Very sad, I hope this does not impact the anti-corruption movement in the country. May God bless the souls of the departed.

    PTI should immediately launch a detailed investigation. Punjab Government behaved very irresponsibly.

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  • Malik
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:32AM

    Ye b Nawaz Shareef py DAL DO

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  • Jan
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:46AM

    Today is a historic day for Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai awarded by Nobel peace prize. Did IK talked on this issue in his speech? Did he salute KP residence Malala? sorry I did not listen his speech, but I think he congratulate Malala and the people of Pakistan for this historic achievement.

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  • Faraz
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:51AM

    @Rambo

    Like a Rambo, you are shooting wildly without bothering to read the whole article “carefully’. Open your eyes, and read once again, specially the following paragraph and concentrate on the bold letters:

    Qasim Bagh has EIGHT GATES, but only THREE of them were operational due to security reasons. Gate one was open for everyone, gate two was open for families and the third was reserved for the entry and exit of PTI’s leadership“.

    So, one gate was reserved for PTI leadership. If you can do simple maths, 8-1 = 7. There were 7 other gates available, and all of them could have been made operational by providing proper security arrangements. But typical Noora style planning and thinking by local administration, where the idea is to cause maximum discomfort and create obstacles in the way of the people attending PTI rallies.

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  • Mirza
    Oct 11, 2014 - 12:53AM

    It is sad and pathetic but this is the truth. We talk about the country we cannot organize a party, gathering or the behavior of people. Chairs were stolen because of others not PTI workers. IK took a nasty fall because of opponents not because of breakdown in organization and stupidity. How many more deaths and destruction would it take to calm down and stop this non-sense? It is not a war but politics and differences should not be personalized. People have enough of hate and politics.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 11, 2014 - 1:16AM

    Such tragedies are expected where unruly and undisciplined crowed gather under the supervision of fake revolutionaries.

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  • mrs ahmed
    Oct 11, 2014 - 1:46AM

    firstly condolence for the dead and sympathy for the injured , this should be an eye opener for karachiites ,who voted PTI in 2013 , this guy who cant train his party to arrange a jalsa , we cant trust our beloved city karachi with him ,

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  • Ranjha
    Oct 11, 2014 - 1:58AM

    The Multan administration is the only party responsible!

    This is a political event and in any democracy worth its salt, the security and safety of the citizens is the responsibility of the government.

    Shame on Non League goons. Go Nawaz Go!

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  • Safoora
    Oct 11, 2014 - 2:02AM

    A very sad incident .

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  • Azad
    Oct 11, 2014 - 2:29AM

    This is very sad. Administration should have ensured that lights are not turned off. At the same time the PTI officials should have organized the exit after jalsa properly. More to blame on Local Administration.

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  • Sonia
    Oct 11, 2014 - 2:44AM

    Life’s were lost due to gross negligence of PTI. FIR should be registered against the top party leadership. They led innocents to death by reserving a gate specifically for VIPs. Shame when PTI speak about VIP culture and don’t practice it themselves.

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  • Maria
    Oct 11, 2014 - 3:08AM

    @bilal: I hope FIR is registered against Imran Khan and PTI for this incident. Manipulating simple people to get hurt while his own kids live in UK and US. Another example of VIP behavior of PTI.

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  • Shahid Pirzada
    Oct 11, 2014 - 3:11AM

    Very sad news. It needs to be investigated and the people responsible should be prosecuted and punished. If PTI is arranging these big gatherings, they have to make sure about the logistics of these gatherings from safety point of view. If they think safety arrangements were not adequate enough then the meeting should have been postponed. Higher safety standards must be implemented before allowing such huge gatherings.

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  • Rambo
    Oct 11, 2014 - 8:51AM

    @Faraz: No excuses or logic can defend PTIs mismanagement that has resulted in the deaths yesterday. The local administration allowed PTI to hold its Jalsa as requested at Qasim Bagh. However, ensuring safety of the attendees is entirely on the party holding the jalsa. PTI should have had made better arrangements with trained staff ensuring that people enter and leave in a disciplined manner. If you talk about the gates, PTI should have objected prior to the Jalsa and not cry foul because this event has taken place at their watch. Nothing but display of sheer incompetence. FIR should be registered against Imran Khan and top PTI leaders for their gross negligence and in the meantime if u-turn khan has any shame he should step down from party chairmanship, as would have happened in any progressive western country that he loves to talk about.

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  • Faraz
    Oct 11, 2014 - 5:37PM

    @Rambo

    You make it sound as if PTI was in-charge of the whole Multan city administration. Everyone from DCO, CCPO, Firefighters, Ambulance and rescue 1122 down to the local station SHO were reporting to PTI leadership. Do not act so naive. You well know how the administration, specially the Punjab one works. This is not the first time a massive jalsa has been held by PTI. Their major fault was to choose an encircled stadium as the venue, and under-estimating the number of people who would show-up at the stadium. In any progressive western society, the first questions would be asked from the local administration if there were any lapses on their part or not.
    Just an example, Hillsborough disaster on 15 April, 1989, where 96 football fans of LiverpoolFC were crushed to death in an over packed stadium. The official inquiry revealed that ” the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control“. Another independent inquiry later on concluded that “multiple failures” by other emergency services and public bodies that contributed to the death toll. You can google it for more details.

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  • jimmy
    Oct 11, 2014 - 6:10PM

    @Rambo: Read the article carefully. After the power went out, two of the three operational gates were closed. It probably resulted in a momentum provided by those moving towards these gates oblivious of their closing. A stampede was inevitable. Imran khan isn’t to blame.

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  • lkhan
    Oct 12, 2014 - 2:10PM

    Eight lives have been lost, no doubt not intentionally. Rather than play politics and blame games, out of respect for those who died and their families, why not investigate what was wrong such as locked gates, electricity cut off and so on, and ensure it does not happen again. Organising mass meetings should include security responsibilities towards those who attend. It was grotesque seeing how those who fainted during the meeting were being passed around as sacks of potatoes. Given how hot it was, why was there no supply of drinking water? More responsibility towards the common man would be a good start rather than constant pontificating of all that is wrong in the nation.. be examples of the change the country needs desperately.

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