A drunk man couldn’t stomach the humiliation of being spurned by a hired wedding party dancer when he asked her to dance with him. He shot her, metres from the stage, with a double-barrel gun.
The grisly incident in Punjab’s Bathinda district stirred the nation’s conscience last week as television channels played in loop the video of the 24-year-old woman dancing one moment and dropping dead the next.
Her tragic death has prompted wedding planners, event organisers and party dancers to extract a promise from their hosts that none of the guests will be allowed to carry firearms.
“We’re taking repeated assurance from hosts that no guests with firearms are allowed. When we take bookings for wedding parties, we make this clause clear and send reminder messages later to avoid confusions or carelessness,” said Ashu Garg, managing director of Good Times Concept, which organises weddings and events in New Delhi and its satellite cities.
“It’s illegal to carry even licensed guns to public functions. Still, such incidents happen,” he said.
Event-management firms have started using advanced body scanners at venues; deploy guards, and install CCTV cameras.
“It’s easier to keep tabs when weddings are held at five-star hotels, instead of outdoor venues. We issue a notice, reminding the hosts that weapons of any kind are not allowed,” said Tarun Sharma, owner of Sound Lab Events.
“What happened in Bhatinda can happen to anyone, so we wouldn’t mind cancelling a booking if things seem unsure, because it’s also about the security of our own people,” he added.
Celebratory firing at weddings is common in north India, and people have been killed and maimed in such dangerous, often drunken, revelry. Last year, a stray bullet hit a 12-year-old girl when she was watching a neighbourhood wedding from the roof of her home in Ghaziabad.
Jasleen Kochhar, founder of Bougainvilla Design Pvt Ltd, said the Bhatinda case should a watershed. “We explain to the hosts that no exception will be made when it comes to security check.”
Performing artistes have started hiring bouncers to keep pesky partygoers away.
“Often, people get carried away. It’s common for guests to join us on the stage, but security is our priority. So taking bouncers along is our only option,” a member of a Russian belly dancers’ troupe said.
The hosts play a crucial role, and they too are reminding guests of the no-arms rule at weddings.
“We told our guests that ours will be an alcohol-free and firing-free celebration. We don’t want trouble,” said M Saraf of Faridabad whose daughter is getting married on February 26.