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Delhi auditions cancelled after stampede

Delhi auditions of adventure reality TV show MTV 'Roadies' were cancelled when a group of young men barged into the auditorium and shattered windowpanes leading to a stampede.

delhi Updated: Oct 03, 2008 19:09 IST

Delhi auditions of adventure reality TV show MTV 'Roadies' were cancelled on Friday when a group of young men barged into the auditorium and shattered windowpanes leading to a stampede. The police resorted to a cane-charge to disperse the agitating crowd.

About 5,000 people had gathered on Friday morning for the auditions of the sixth season of the popular show at the NCUI auditorium in south Delhi's Hauz Khas area. People, mostly youth, lined up at the venue since 7 am though the gates for the registration were thrown open only at 9 am.

Eyewitnesses said things were moving smoothly and group discussions had begun when suddenly a group of young men entered the main foyer area and started vandalising the premises by smashing windowpanes and turning chairs upside down.

They group also tried to damage a motorbike in the display area besides burning posters of the show.

The reason for the attack was not clear.

The organisers, who had deployed nearly 100 security men, called the police after they failed to control the mob and bring the situation under control.

"People started jumping across the wall, and there was a stampede. Suddenly in the foyer area, there were some 150 odd people who started acting funny and breaking things up," Vaibhav Vishal, associate vice president of Shows, MTV India, told IANS.

"They began to break the window panes and threw flower pots. They even damaged cameras. We realised that some guys were here just to create trouble and because the safety and security of the people were paramount to us, we decided to call off the auditions."

"Had we not stopped the auditions, those guys would have done some bodily harm to some people," said Vishal, who was facilitating the group discussions.

The audition in Delhi was the fifth of six being conducted in the country. Participants have already been selected from Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

Seeing the situation getting out of control, the organisers called the police who resorted to a mild baton charge.

An eyewitness said that over 10 people were injured in the clash with the police. However, it could not be independently confirmed.

"I came here at 8 am with my friends and there was a huge rush. There was not enough space in the auditorium to accommodate everyone, which led to the problem.

"As we were waiting for our turn suddenly police began to baton-charge. Several people were injured as everyone tried to move out," said 20-year-old Shailey, whose friend Vibha was injured in the incident and rushed to the AIIMS trauma centre.

Anuj, a Delhi University student who had come for the audition, said: "Several people were injured in the cane-charge. I saw a woman bleeding profusely after a baton hit her head."

The participants also complained that there was no proper arrangement made at the audition venue to deal with the huge rush.

Ashish Patil, senior vice president and general manager MTV India, said around 5,000 people had turned up for the Delhi auditions.

"Even though all arrangements were in place, you can still never be sure with this kind of turnout. In the interest of everyone's safety, we have decided to cancel the Delhi leg of MTV Roadies auditions for now," Patil said.

Vishal said: "As for the baton charge, we cannot control the police. We had 100 security men of our own plus the Delhi Police. Enough security was there but after the chaos, we couldn't have controlled them. Baton charge was their decision."

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi) H.G.S. Dhaliwal said: "There was no baton charge. In fact, our officers dealt with the situation very peacefully."

The organisers said they were assessing the scenario and trying to figure out how to get more people in. Every year at least three to four people from Delhi make it to the final top 13.

"We shall soon announce the alternate date and plan for the Delhi auditions," he added.