LAHORE: Absolving district government of responsibility for deaths during Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Multan rally, a three-member committee - constituted to probe the deadly stampede - blamed PTI organisers for not following rules set for the event.
On October 10, seven PTI supporters were killed and dozens more sustained injuries in the stampede triggered by protesters scrambling to exit gates as power supply was disrupted.
Headed by Punjab Secretary Environment Iqbal Chauhan, the committee held PTI management partly responsible for the incident, saying the organisers did not follow the rules of the agreement signed between party and the local administration.
In contrast to PTI allegations, the report termed the tragedy an accident and dismissed accusations that the stampede was a conspiracy by the district administration.
“All five gates, especially the gate where the stampede took place, were open at the time when people were exiting the venue and there was adequate arrangement of lighting at the time of the incident,” the report said.
The committee explained that the stampede occurred when a large number of people tried to exit the venue at once. “In the process, several people fell on the ground and were trampled by others when the exit gate was bottlenecked,” the committee said.
According to the report, the gate was closed – as seen in TV footage – after the incident to let the rescue workers operate smoothly.
Stating that victims were given first aid outside the stadium, the report said a large number of participants, rescue officials and police officials were present there.
On the use of water cannon, the report said it was an attempt to disperse people for smooth rescue operation. “It proved helpful as it did push people away from the gate and helped those trapped at the entrance to move out,” it said.
The committee also said that the district management and police had informed PTI leaders about their reservations but PTI Vice Chairperson Shah Mehmood Qureshi ignored these warnings.
As per the report, ASI Multan police Muhammad Anwer informed Qureshi when people clogged one of the exit gates and he informed other leaders including Ejaz Chaudhary and Imran Khan who were on the stage at that time, after which Imran paused and requested the participants to move away from the gate.
PTI has rejected the report, saying it does not reflect the facts.
The other two members of the probe committee are DIG Aamir and Special Secretary Interior Dr Shoaib Akbar.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ