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KK death: Questions swirl around Nazrul Mancha as venue on Tuesday evening

The Telegraph lists some instances of alleged mismanagement

Monalisa Chaudhuri, Subhajoy Roy | Published 02.06.22, 06:45 AM
KK performing at the Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata on Tuesday.

KK performing at the Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Twitter/@TT_My_Kolkata

KK’s death has brought to the fore alleged mismanagement at Nazrul Mancha in south Kolkata, where the singer performed in a concert shortly before he died on Tuesday night. Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) is the custodian of the auditorium. The Telegraph lists some instances of alleged mismanagement.

Crowds: Nazrul Mancha can accommodate 2,482 people. But according to estimates of police and the organisers of Tuesday’s concert, more than 7,000 had turned up.

An employee said five out of the seven gates of the auditorium had to be kept open because of “crowd pressure”. At least two wooden gates were damaged because of the rush, a KMDA official said.

People without entry passes should have been stopped at the main gate, where a KMDA official said six guards were deployed.

Managing the gates is the responsibility of the organisers, the official said. “KMDA’s guards check whether anyone is smoking on the premises or throwing waste,” he said.

Police officers, too, said managing the gates was the organisers’ responsibility.

Bijit Dey of Blackeyed Media House, the event management company hired for the show, said the police and Nazrul Mancha officials saw the crowds at the gates but did not object. “After two years of Covid (curbs), if there is a good show in Kolkata, people will turn up in large numbers. Had there been a problem, the police and auditorium officials should have intervened,” he said.

Lack of coordination: Rule said the local police station and the traffic police should be kept in the loop about developments during an event. A Nazrul Mancha employee said he saw a few students (the event was organised by Ultadanga’s Gurudas Mahavidyalaya) operate a hand-held fire extinguisher to disperse some people who were trying to force their way in.

It was only after many started dancing on the seats and many more had to be pushed out that police received an alert, sources said. Officers of Rabindra Sarobar police station arrived and dispersed the people still hanging around.

Ideally, the organisers should have alerted the police long before the crowd in the auditorium had exceeded the capacity.

Lack of preparedness: The organisers of any event at Nazrul Mancha have to take permission from the police and the KMDA. But neither agency is involved in deciding how many people will enter.

Joint commissioner (headquarters) Subhankar Sinha Sarkar said there was police deployment outside the auditorium. “We are investigating what happened,” he said.

A senior IPS officer said if there was a fear that a large crowd would turn up, the police could have collected all passes from the organisers, stamped them and returned them to the organisers for distribution. That could have prevented duplication of passes and reduced the turnout.

Mismanagement: Several students and ex-students of the college said there was excess light in the auditorium that could have generated too much heat. “KK wanted some of the lights switched off,” said Somraj Das, a former student of Gurudas Mahavidyalaya.

Dey, of the event management company, said the lights were arranged as told by the artiste’s team. “There were standard lights and when he (KK) asked to switch off a few, we immediately did that,” Dey said.

AC or no AC: There were allegations that ACs in the auditorium were either inadequate or switched off. Sources said Nazrul Mancha has three centralised AC units, each with a capacity of 126 tonnes. “Usually, two units run and one is on standby. There was no instruction to switch on the third on Tuesday,” said a Mancha official.

Mayor Firhad Hakim said the AC units were adequate and blamed over-crowding and open doors for excess heating.

Last updated on 04.06.22, 07:41 AM
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