January 29, 2017 5:25:44 am
The Railways police have issued notices to Excel Entertainment, co-producer of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees, and the chief public relations officer (CPRO) of the Western Railways as they probe the stampede-like situation at Vadodara railway station during the visit of the actor on January 23. One person had died and several Shah Rukh fans were injured in the incident. The Railway police have sought explanations from Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment, which co-produced the movie along with Shah Rukh’s Red Chillies Entertainment, and the CPRO regarding the guidelines under which the Railway authorities granted permission for the promotion of Raees. Shah Rukh had reached the city on board August Kranti Express. On Tuesday, SP, Western Railways (Vadodara division), Sharad Singhal had ordered a probe into the mishap.
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A senior officer of the Railways police told The Sunday Express, “We have asked the CPRO to furnish us with all the documents pertaining to the request made by the production company for the promotional activity, as well as the rules that mandate the Railways to issue such permission. We have also asked them to give details of the conditions, if any, laid down by them before the production house, to see if the organisers violated any security protocols. Once, we are clear about the status and the validity of such permission, we will proceed with the further action in this matter.”
The notice explicitly asks the CPRO to state which authority was consulted before giving the permission to the actor and the production house for such a large scale promotional activity.
Similarly, the Railways police have given Excel Entertainment a week’s time to provide documents that explicitly provide them with the permission to promote the film on Vadodara platform.
Sources in the Railways public relation department said that Excel Entertainment was given permission only for “promoting the film on the train”, and did not include gathering crowds at Railway platforms. An official said, “The permission was given for promoting and interacting with the passengers on the train as well as having media on-board to conduct interactions with the actor on the moving train. The entire team, including the journalists accompanying Shah Rukh Khan, had bona fide tickets and we had reserved coach A4 for them to ensure that passengers on the train are not hassled as well as from the security point of view. However, while the permission allowed the production house to have promotional activity on the train, it did not include the station platforms. Certainly not gathering crowds at the platforms, which the publicity team is said to have done.”
Railways police officials said that the situation went out of control as the publicity team went ahead and invited local residents of Vadodara to arrive at the station, enticing them with the opportunity of taking photographs with Shah Rukh.
“The stampede was a result of people’s impatience and disappointment that the actor did not even step down from the train, choosing to wave at the crowd and urged them to watch the film on a loudspeaker. That was the reason why they started banging the train and running along with it when it began to pull out of the platform. In order to avert a major mishap such as having people slip under the moving train from the platform, the police had to resort to lathicharge that caused the stampede,” said an official.
In the chaos that ensued, several fans were injured while two RPF constables and a man, Farid Khan Sherani, collapsed due to suffocation. While the two constables have recovered, Sherani died due to a cardiac arrest.
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