Cusat stampede: police collecting statements from maximum people

In the absence of CCTV cameras covering the open-air stadium, the police will have to depend on videos taken by eyewitnesses

November 27, 2023 06:55 pm | Updated 06:55 pm IST - KOCHI

The special investigation team (SIT) probing the stampede at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) is going ahead with collecting statements from maximum number of people to get a clear picture of how the tragedy took place.

Till now, 20-odd statements, including that of students, the organisers and the injured, have been recorded. Statements of officials, including faculty members, will be recorded in the coming days.

In the absence of CCTV cameras covering the open-air stadium, the police will have to depend on videos taken by eyewitnesses, including students. “We have already received some videos. But none of the videos are from the exact area where the stampede took place. However, we remain hopeful that we may come across the videos we are looking for,” a senior officer associated with the probe said.

Four persons, including three students, were killed and scores injured in the stampede ahead of a musical concert set to be held as part of Dhishna, a tech fest organised by the School of Engineering of Cusat (SoE), on Saturday.

On Monday, a letter, which was purportedly issued by the Principal of the SoE to the Cusat Registrar a day before the tragedy over deploying security staff and police for the musical programme surfaced. Asked whether the police had received any such letter from the Registrar, the officer said that the police had not received any letter from any university official seeking police deployment.

“Eight police personnel were deployed on the university campus though not exactly near the auditorium where the stampede occurred. But that deployment has been there for a fortnight in view of the continuing tension on the campus,” he said.

Asked whether the flight of stairs leading to the open-air auditorium could have led to the stampede, the officer said that while that could be cited as a security hazard, the fact remained that many programmes had been held there smoothly in the past.

However, it remains a fact that had the commotion happened inside the auditorium rather than at the entry point leading to the flight of stairs, it would not have caused such a tragedy as there were many escape routes as it was an open-air auditorium.

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