Gig gone gloomy: India’s concert planners express outrage following Manchester bombing
Tragedy struck Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester on 22 May 2017 as a suicide bomber incinerated 22, including himself, and injured several others. The concert was part of Ariana’s European tour that was due to conclude on 15 June. Ahead, India’s foremost concert planners share their reactions.
Yesterday the identity of the suicide bomber was revealed as 22 years old British born Salman Abedi, while ISIS claimed responsibility for the barbaric act. “We hope someday those responsible for such cruelty wake up to the realization that people they hurt are their own brothers and sisters”, said founder of Percept Harindra Singh, the man behind India’s iconic music festival Sunburn. Expressing a similar sentiment Vijay Nair, founder of Only Much Louder (OML) and promoter of what claims to be the ‘happiest’ music festival- NH7 Weekender- stated, “No venue is safe anymore. In the past bombings have happened at the most secure locations, government buildings, public transport, etc. We are dealing with groups that are fairly determined. If they can build hazardous detonators and are willing to give up their lives then surely infiltrating some location would be the least of their worries.
A concert ground has never witnessed brutality of such a nature before. The incident is most certainly a reality check that disaster can strike anytime and anywhere. An outraged Arjun Jain, founder of White Fox India and organizer of the recent Justin Bieber concert added, “An act of terror always comes without any prior warning and hence every promoter needs to take appropriate steps to avoid any situation that can cause harm to the fans or artists”.
But how can one possibly be prepared for such an unexpected occurrence?
Arjun Jain states, “We need to ensure efficient security measures at every large format event. There can be no loopholes in the system with no compromise on safety. Hiring trained security personnel to installing body screeners to metal detectors, every promoter must take into account the importance of security. There need to be stricter guidelines for every festival attendee on items barred into the festival arena. As part of the pre event set up there needs to be a hygiene check in place from bomb disposal squads to sniffer dogs to police booths on ground to checking all incoming and outgoing traffic at important check points. There needs to be an increased usage of security cameras and drones to monitor every entry and exit into the stadium and a thorough background check on every person working on the event.”
Chiming in Vijay Nair adds, “Stronger preventive measures must surely be undertaken. From last year onwards we have started screening safety videos. The intent is to inform people so the procedure is implanted in their minds. But this needs to be an industry wide practice in order to create standard protocols. It needs to be done every single time at every single event”
“Security and safety has been our top priority, be it for our clients or our own properties”, says Harindra Singh. “We work very closely with all the Governments, and non-government bodies to ensure best security cover at our events. Our multi-layered security check ensures that no prohibited items are carried into the event venue and we also have a zero tolerance policy on safety and security protocol. Citizens too need to become equally responsible on following rules and also stay vigilant on reporting unclaimed baggage, objects lying around or any suspicious behavior observed”, he concludes.
While aggrieved families mourn and struggle to come to terms with their loss, a distressed Ariana Grande is torn between the decision to continue her tour or not. “If she’s not ready to cope with it, if she’s not mentally there, then she should not continue with the tour, expresses Nair”. “She is after all a human first, not everything is driven by profit and loss.”
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