Malda, Oct. 17: An irate crowd went on the rampage and ransacked a pandal erected last night near here after the organisers failed to bring on stage singer Shreya Ghoshal as they had promised.
The chaos at Ratua, about 32km from here, around 11pm caused a near stampede.
The ransacking took place for over an hour, after which a police team arrived at the spot.
The cultural programme — a common occurrence in the state following Durga Puja and before Kali Puja — was titled “Musical Hungama Nite” by the organisers. It was held in a pandal adjacent to Pirganj High School.
The organisers had sold tickets at the rate of Rs 50 for chairs and Rs 30 for sitting on the ground and over 5,000 men, women and children had turned up for the programme, a source said, just to see Shreya Ghoshal perform.
The sources added that the programme was scheduled to begin from 8pm started at 10pm.
The sources said the programme started with local artistes from Malda and Raiganj belting out numbers.
When the audience demanded that Shreya Ghoshal start her performance, the organisers announced that because of “unavoidable circumstances” she could not make it.
This triggered off the violence and the mob ransacked the pandal, broke lights, the sound system and chairs, the source said.
According to the officer in charge of Ratua police station, Bikram Singh, the organisers had not sought any police permission to host the event.
“There was no permission for the function. Although no one has filed a complaint, we are investigating who the organisers were. If needed, we will start a case against the organisers,” Singh said.
The secretary of the Malda Decorators’ Association, Balaram Bhattacharya, said there was a loss of Rs 2.5 lakh because of the ransack.
“Two decorators from Malda had got the contract for the pandal and the sound system. They have suffered a damage of Rs 2.5 lakh. Two hundred chairs, 80 speakers and microphones, the sound system, 20 ceiling fans and the pandal making material were damaged. We are going to demand compensation from the organisers,” he said.
Shabana Bibi, a housewife, who had gone to the programme with her five-year-old daughter, said she was nearly trampled during the violence.
“I and many others wanted to see Shreya Ghoshal perform as we had only seen her on television. The organisers had put up large banners all over the place. When the people started ransacking the pandal, I and the others tried to run. I fell down with my daughter but was lucky to escape. It was very frightening,” she said
Dinabandhu Saha, the president of the organising committee of the function, said they had approached a Calcutta-based agency to get Shreya Ghoshal to perform.
“We had contacted a Calcutta-based agency that had promised us that Shreya Ghoshal would perform. However, a few hours before the programme, we were told that she was not available and she had cancelled her performance here. There was nothing we could do,” he said.