Festivals are places for good times, celebration and a safe space for all music lovers to come together. Or so they should be at least.
Solis Music And Arts Festival which took place at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) in Islamabad, Pakistan, last week on February 15, 2020, however, ended up being nothing short of a nightmare for those who attended. With a lineup that featured some international names like Dannic and Julian Jordan, this was the fourth edition of the festival. From horrifying reports of stampedes and injuries as fake ticket holders swarmed into the venue, to accounts of women being groped and molested in the midst of the chaos, all hell broke loose on those festival grounds.
Videos further go on to show people getting frustrated and climbing onto the stage and thrashing and destroying things since the organizers had to put a stop to the music due to the unmanageable influx of fake ticket holders. There are also reports that the elevated VIP section came crashing down as it got overly crowded. Social media has been ablaze with videos and stories of the monstrosities the attendees had to go through.
From mismanagement to over populated event from breaking VIP lounges to destruction of stage, one can easily navigate that we are intolerant society as a whole that needs schooling badly I REPEAT BADLY #Solis #solisfestival #Islamabad pic.twitter.com/MxAqNiBhlM
— SUMAIRA RAJPUT (@sumaira_rajput) February 16, 2020
— Adnan Hameed عدنان حمید (@AdnanHa65560820) February 15, 2020
While there seemed to be no one owning up or taking any responsibility after numerous allegations of women being molested and groped in the midst of this chaos, things have taken a legal turn. The company that manages the events has been blacklisted and slapped with an FIR making them responsible for the lack of management and security leading to these hellish conditions.
This was the company’s response on social media.
View this post on Instagram
DEAR ISLAMABAD What was borne from a love of music and wanting to share a piece of the international music world to Pakistan, Solis provided entertainment that didn’t exist and became a community based on peace and unity, bringing together homegrown businesses that supported our economy and put Pakistan on the map. Despite all the challenges of putting together such an experience in Pakistan (the things you don’t see behind the scenes like finding the right speakers, pyro, the security gates that need to be built from scratch, to convincing our artists that Pakistan is indeed safe and beautiful), we made it happen. Not once, not even 3 times in 2019, but for the 4th time yesterday in Islamabad till the incident hours after doors opened. We chose the venue and our security based on the number of tickets sold and made arrangements based on this. We warned against fake tickets on numerous occasions. However, we underestimated the sheer volume of thousands of “fake tickets” that were being sold illegally. These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weight and destroyed our stage putting everyone’s safety at risk. To those that believed in us and came to genuinely enjoy the show, we are deeply sorry that this experience was ruined by others. We know that you came far and wide and we know how much you were looking forward to this event as we were too. For you, our true fans, we absolutely could not put your safety and security at risk and had to stop the event. What some of you didn’t see was the further damage these individuals caused after we shut down the event. Crores Of damage have set us back even further. WE are a community. WE are responsible for changing mindsets- together! While we will hold on Solis indefinitely in Islamabad, we will NOT let this define us. We will LEARN and PERSEVERE and keep giving Pakistan an experience they haven’t had before, much like we have done in the past. We will NOT let the actions of a few decide for the rest of us. We will be back.
While this wasn’t the first event by the organizers, it was the first one to go south this bad. There is a call to work with the police to take action against those responsible and hold them accountable. Based on the allegations of one of the females in attendance who was grossly misbehaved with, an FIR has also been filed according to a tweet by the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad.
One Instagram user named Shanza said: “[The stage] was almost seven feet high and I lost consciousness for a minute. All I remember is me struggling to get up and a guy starts snatching my bag. We’re getting stamped upon and literally no one’s helping… [people] start touching, groping and harassing us. Where are you now Solis festival? How are you planning on compensating the physical pain, mental trauma [and] sexual harassment?”
Another more detailed report read,
A woman attending #SolisFestival last night shares her horrifying ordeal.
She + friends were harassed and sexually assaulted by male concert goers, gatecrashers. They were injured by a falling platform.
Event organisers failed on every level.
Who's going to answer for this? pic.twitter.com/hF5j0Q4I2v
— Hamna Zubair (@hamnazubair) February 16, 2020
— Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (@dcislamabad) February 16, 2020
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