Post KK’s death, several colleges increase fests’ budget for better arrangement & security

Almost a month after singer KK died shortly after a live concert in Kolkata, several city colleges have increased the allocation of budget for their fests in a bid to prevent such a tragedy from taking place in the future.

Welcoming the move, some college unions termed the singer’s demise an “eye-opener”, while most of the unions are still tight-lipped on the future of their annual fest.

Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK, 53, died of a cardiac arrest on May 31 in Kolkata, where he had a two-day concert. While performing at the annual fest of Gurudas College at Nazrul Mancha, the singer was taken ill. He was rushed to CMRI Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead upon arrival. Doctors said the singer died of a suspected cardiac arrest. As videos of KK’s final concert — purportedly showing an overcrowded venue and complete mismanagement — went viral on social media, several political parties raised questions over the management and functioning and the security at the state-run Nazrul Mancha, alleging “these could have played a role in the singer’s death”.

Cautioned by the incident, Nazrul Mancha officials have stopped booking the auditorium for college fests, as of now. The Kolkata Police, meanwhile, issued an advisory to the colleges over organising fests, asking them to do away with
overcrowding and security lapses.

“We had decided that the first two days (September 21 and 22) of our college fest would be held at the college’s memorial hall and the final day (September 23) at Nazrul Manch. But, as Nazrul Mancha is not accepting bookings, we have to postpone our inter-college annual fest to November,” said Uttaran Banerjee, general secretary, Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP)-controlled Asutosh College students’ union.

Uttaran, however, said booking a new venue and putting in place an ambulance and additional security guards, etc, would increase their budget. “We have so far not paid advance anywhere like paying to artists or for any other arrangements. The money for the fest comes from our college administration and the sponsors and is budgeted tightly.

But now we will have to plan out the fest by keeping the advisory in mind and will have to pay accordingly. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, organising college fests would cost about Rs 20 lakh or less, but now it will cost us Rs 30 to 40 lakh. Increasing inflation and increased fees by artists also count,” he said. SFI students’ union member at Presidency University Shubojit Sarkar said student leaders should take responsibility for ensuring the smooth
conduct of college fests. “We need to understand that it’s not about managing the auditorium. Rather, it’s about the conduct of students’ unions which organise fests. It is their responsibility to ensure overcrowding does not take place. They should not sell passes more than the capacity of the venue,” said Sarkar.

Sarkar added that college fests must be organised on the open ground and passes should be distributed a little less than the capacity of the venue.

TMCP-controlled students’ union leader of New Alipore College Soumya Sarkar said, “We always follow safety protocols while organising fests and annual social. We always hire private security guards to control the crowd, an ambulance for the emergency and invite fewer students than the capacity of an auditorium. KK’s demise is certainly going to be an eye-opener for students’ unions in various colleges. We will further tighten the security arrangements,” said Sarkar.

The last time New Alipore College had organised a fest was in 2019. However, after KK’s demise, the college has
decided to hold the fest in the winter. Trinankur Bhattacharya, state president of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the students’ wing of Trinamool Congress, said instead of creating a fear-psychosis, the fests should be organised by making better arrangements. “It is important to ensure that no untoward incident happens. The Kolkata Police advisory will surely change the present scenario.”

SFI state secretary Srijan Bhattacharya said that TMCP students’ unions must make extra effort to ensure the city’s image was not tarnished. “There is a problem with the way TMCP has been dealing and managing things since 2017 when the students’ union elections in colleges were last held. As there hasn’t been an election since 2017, they are having a free run. Their leaders are breaking rules while organising such a big event. This needs to be stopped.
They cannot change rules to suit their agenda,” said Bhattacharya.

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