ISRO Expo at VJTI called off to avoid stampede
Several people who came from faraway places were dissatisfied as they couldn’t get a glimpse of the exhibition.
Mumbai: The three-day Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Science and Technology Expo at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga, had to be shut on Saturday due to overcrowding. The institute’s authority feared the possibility of a stampede-like situation and decided to close down the event.
“We asked people to enrol online and got only 13,000 registrations. However, on Saturday, more than 50,000 people visited the expo,” announced a VJTI official on a public address system. “Schools have registered one name but have come with buses full of children. We got unexpected responses and are unable to handle so much of a crowd. We are apologising to people for the inconvenience, but due to a stampede-like situation, we have to close the exhibition today (Feb 25) as well as tomorrow (Feb 26).”
Parents unhappy with the decision
Meanwhile, several people who came from faraway places were dissatisfied as they couldn’t get a glimpse of the exhibition.
“I came from Ambernath with young kids and relatives so that they could generate interest in subjects such as space, ISRO and science as well as could interact with scientists who were supposed to be in the exhibition,” said Shahida Shaikh, who registered for the event and received a slot to visit the exhibition. “I even had a gate pass, but still they didn’t allow us. The children skipped school to visit the event. I am completely shocked at the way they decided without thinking of anybody.”
The institute’s authority should have at least allowed the people who completed a registration on their website, she said, adding, “The event was promoted through WhatsApp and hence the authority should have been prepared for huge crowds.”
Another visitor, Reena More, from Andheri was stopped at the gate. She wanted her daughter to learn about space and science. “They were going to guide about careers in ISRO, show launch vehicles and satellite models, show humanoid robots and also to show smart space robots. We came to show my daughter about space. Sadly, they did not allow us to go inside,” said More.
“We were very excited about the expo. My daughter is in senior KG. Such exhibitions are rarely held in Mumbai. It happened after five years in the city. They should have managed it well,” said Harshad Kambli, who had come for the expo from Kamothe, Navi Mumbai. “It’s very sad that they have shut it in such a hurry.”
He added that people came from Sangli, Pune and Aurangabad with their children.
Tough job for the police
The expo – called Techno Vanza – started on February 24 and was expected to go on till February 26.
However, after the overwhelming crowd on Saturday, the Matunga police reacted promptly and deployed extra force at the venue.
“We already have 30 HSC exam centres and have deployed bandobast outside the colleges for it. From Friday, we had posted our men outside VJTI as well. On Saturday morning, the crowd started increasing and the whole college was surrounded by people who came from Mumbai and other areas of the state. The whole Nathalal Parekh Marg was crowded with people. We posted all our men, including the SRPF outside the college. Finally, after a meeting with the college, it was decided to shut the event to avoid any untoward incident,” said Deepak Chavan, senior police inspector of Matunga police station.
“We had a tough job to convince the crowd as people kept on coming. Everyone wanted to get inside and tried to negotiate with us,” said a policeman posted outside the college.