Chaos reigned at Pragati Maidan on Sunday, the first time since the India International Trade Fair (IITF) at Pragati Maidan was thrown open to the public.
The event, which kicked off on November 14, saw this year’s largest turnout on Sunday — over 1,20,000 people, according to trade fair officials.
“There was so much jostling around me that at one point, I nearly lost my balance,” said Abhishek Joshi (28), who was visiting the fair with his cousins.
“Ultimately, we just decided to stay put at a restaurant till the worst was over,” he said.
Reema Shah (54), another visitor, had a harrowing experience when she dropped her purse just as the crowd was swelling around her.
“There were so many people that I couldn’t even bend down and look for my purse. I lost it,” she said.
At 2 p.m., trade fair officials had to shut down the ticket-counters at Pragati Maidan because of the rush.
“The counters at some gates had to be shut at regular intervals. We wanted to ensure there was no stampede or any untoward incident,” said VA Gupta, deputy commissioner of police (Trade Fair).
By 4 p.m., security officials started blocking all the entrances to the Maidan to prevent more people from going in. This led to temporary bottlenecks at most entrances.
Mounted police were also deployed outside the Maidan premises. “We had to deploy extra force and some policemen were also put in reserve,” the officer said.
The Pragati Maidan metro station too was jam-packed and long queues could be seen at the entrances. Officials said that they had to deploy over 100 police personnel on the metro station alone.