Of Cumbersome Hassles and Conflicts
One of the major hurdles faced by the organisers of ISM 2k16 was acquiring permissions and satisfying the requisite security procedures. To shed some light on the issues, we got in touch with Prof K.C. Pati, Dean of Students’ Welfare and Mr Balaram Champatiray, the Chief Security Officer.
In the face of a lot of last-minute work that is to be done before any fest, the organisers were asked to vacate the premises of SAC at 10:00 p.m. by 22 guards who barged in on them. Previously, when they were faced with a similar situation during Innovision 2k15, the Director had intervened on their behalf and students were allowed to continue with their work. During ISM, the Acting-Director, Prof K. C. Pati said that this was not allowed this time, because of security issues that had come up previously.
Student Convenor Arvind Shroff said that despite the usual norm being a nominal charge of INR 500 for outsiders entering the institute with food packets, organisers were charged INR 3,000 as caution money for the same. The Chief Security Officer clarified that the hike in the caution money arises when food is being prepared inside DTS in the stalls that were set up. Moreover, once it is verified that DTS is clean, the entire amount is refunded.
Entry at Main Gate
Organisers complained that despite ordinary cars being allowed to enter the campus until 9:00 p.m. at night, guests like Padmashree Vijay Ghate and the artistes from TVF Viral Fever had to wait for half an hour outside the main gate. Balaram Champatiray, Chief Security Officer claimed, “It is impossible that they had to wait for half an hour outside the gate. I don’t believe this! However, if they were stopped at the gate in the first place, it is because the organisers did not submit the signed application at the gate. The procedure is to get the requisite permission letters signed by me and then deposit a copy with the guards at the main gate, in advance. I believe the Convenors failed to do so, because of which they faced such inconvenience at the last minute.”
Removal of Banners
During the fest, the organisers faced considerable resistance from the guards in putting up banners of their sponsor ‘Ola’. On being questioned about the authority of guards to intervene, the Chief Security Officer said that they were only doing their job. If any document requiring such publicity within the institute is signed prior to the fest, it should be brought to the notice of the Chief Security Officer. He said, “In this case, no one informed me that banners need to be put up in these pre-decided places. After the guards pulled down one of the flexes, the organisers called me and afterwards they were allowed to put up their banners.”
Shortage and Negligence of Guards
During the pro-show, Convenors faced a huge security issue – there were not enough guards inside the barricades to maintain a basic level of decorum that is required during a live show. Even after the show, when people were mobbing outside the cars of their celebrity guests, there were no guards to help prevent the situation from escalating. Stated Debjit Nandi, one of the convenors, “During the show, there were three customised mementos sponsored by our Goodies Partner ‘Archies’ for the guests that were crushed and destroyed when one of the Convenors left them there at the charge of the stationed guard. Later, the guards denied all responsibility and refused to accept negligence on their part. There were people drinking in the backstage and creating chaos. Even when the guards were asked to come forth and help students control the crowd, the SIS Security Head did not allow them to step in, claiming that their intervention was not required.”
According to the Convenors, this happened in Prof K. C. Pati’s presence, and he too sided with the guards saying that it was alright. On being questioned regarding his stance, Prof K.C Pati strictly denies the fact that he was present at DTS on the second day during Panache. He says he was informed about the situation by SAC President and Faculty Convenor Prof. Vamshi Reddy on the next day.
Both students and faculty Convenors expressed their disappointment with regard to the way security issues were handled during the three days of the fest. They claimed that they had to pay a sum INR 400 for every guard that they had on duty on the pretext of them doing overtime. However, despite this extra payment, they failed to discharge their duties satisfactorily leading to a lot of trouble and inconvenience for the organisers. Student Convenor Soham Ghosh says, “Either the security situation should be looked into and improved by the institute, or, students should be allowed to take care of security on their own.”
On being questioned about the negligence of security guards on duty, the Chief Security Officer said that he was present in DTS till 10 p.m. himself, after which he instructed the Chief of SIS Security to shut down the event, but the students disregarded this warning. He says, “It was the organisers who created chaos unnecessarily by extending the program till 11 p.m. Guards were very much there in DTS but nobody was ready to listen to them so they had to step back.” He believes it is part of the volunteers’ job to control their friends in such situations. Moreover, he was never informed that the situation had gotten out of hand. It was only after the entire event was shut down, after 11:00pm, that Prof Reddy called him up to tell him that the situation had been taken care of. He is confident, that if he had been physically present there, such a situation would never have arisen. He also says,
“The INR 400 is paid for extra guards that are required during the fest and not for the overtime duty of existing guards. SAC had demanded 10 guards for 2 days and they were deployed. If there was a shortage, then I should have been informed. Unless they tell me when they are facing a problem, how I can believe them when they bring this up later?”
However, Prof K. C. Pati on being questioned about the extra INR 400 that organisers pay for security said, “There is no such rule that I know of. SAC pays security personnel according to the norms set down by the government; therefore, there is no question of any extra coming into the picture!”
Sponsorship from Udyanta Fresh
Organisers of ISM 2k16 said that they had approached the Convenors of NU 2k16 to request them to allow the usage of their unspent INR 50,000 sponsorship from Udyanta Fresh. However, this exchange was not allowed by Prof K. C. Pati. On enquiring about his decision, he said that the organisers had approached him just one or two days before the fest and they said that they wanted INR 50,000 for a lecture that was to be organized by AIESEC. According to him, they had asked for these funds to be diverted from the INR 1 lakh that is allocated for conducting year-long workshops. He said,
“I denied their request because this money was reserved for a separate purpose. Moreover, they should have followed the official procedure of approaching purchase orders, which was not possible at such short notice. They never asked me for the money that NU 2k16 had got from Udyanta Fresh.”