Raees by rail: What started as a fun event quickly dissolved into a life-threatening situation when mammoth crowds gathered and stampedes began as Shahrukh Khan boarded an Indian Railways train from Mumbai to Delhi to promote Raees. The chaos led to injuries to fans and policemen and the death of a man in Vadodara, Gujarat. But can the blame be put squarely on mob mentality? Why not on SRK? One cannot argue that the size of the crowds resulted in the problem. For instance, down South over the last 10 days, Chennai has been reeling under Jallikattu protests and yet it did not lead to a single death. Let’s not forget that the Jallikattu issue had the potential to become exceedingly violent, but it didn’t. Yet, here is Shahrukh causing havoc at a number of railway stations and it quickly led to the death of an innocent bystander.
Thank u Gujarat. This is so beautiful. Thanks for waiting for Raees Surat. pic.twitter.com/SL8bMGhdcg
While people in the crowd shouldn’t have trampled each other trying to reach Shahrukh, consider this – authorities knew that the train would only stop for 10-15 minutes at each station adding to the desperation of teh fans to catch a glimpse of their iconic star. Had Shahrukh stayed longer, the crowd would not have been as desperate to rush to the train. Conventional fan meet-and-greet sessions are tiresomely long, but that is because they follow all the security measures required.
All lights and love in Valsad. Thank u for welcoming team Raees. pic.twitter.com/0xzP2zIRBE
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) January 23, 2017
This was not a pioneering effort by SRK. When Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor were traveling by train for a similar stunt for their 2015 release Tamasha, no such incident took place. While there were crowds and the level of frenzy was similar, the event had no casualties. It was managed well, even though they are nowhere near the iconic status that SRK has acquired.
Of course, there is another lesson to be learnt here about people too. Political debates have nothing on people’s obsession with Bollywood. You might come out of a political rally without a scratch, but put an actor in a public place and you might just end up in the hospital.
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So, far from blaming Indian Railways, this is a prime case for the Railways to target Shahrukh Khan for misusing their trains, platforms for a movie promotional campaign and endangering lives.