The Raees team thought it had gotten the PR stunt of the year when they decided to promote the movie by taking Shahrukh Khan, Sunny Leone and Rahul Dholakia from Mumbai to Delhi on a train joyride. As PR stunts go, this was imaginative. But considering the potential for a tragedy, after all SRK is a megastar and everyone knows he will draw mammoth crowds wherever he goes, the potential for targedy was immense. While SRK & co got the publicity, it ended up being of the wrong kind after chaos broke out at a number of railway stations leading to one person dying as a result. Police were forced to lathi charge the crowds in Vadodara, where two policemen also got injured, and again in Kota. The needless death brings to question how neither the Raees team nor the Indian Railways could foresee the incidents.
All lights and love in Valsad. Thank u for welcoming team Raees. pic.twitter.com/0xzP2zIRBE
Unlike other promotional events, Raees by rail happened in a public space – entry was open to everyone and this meant the fans who would turn up would severely outnumber the security personnel. There couldn’t be barricades or restrictions because there wouldn’t be a way to tell SRKians from regular commuters. While the casualties have grabbed the spotlight, Raees by rail must have also inconvenienced other passengers as they boarded or de-boarded the train. This was definitely the case with the deceased who, according to ANI, was not a fan and had not come to see Shahrukh at all.
In Vapi Udi Udi jaaye… pic.twitter.com/JnrDqMI0F6
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) January 23, 2017
This is a case of horrific mismanagement. But who is responsible for the death of an innocent bystander? The Raees team could have predicted the level of frenzy. The Indian Railways, which has to battle large crowds on a daily basis as it is, should have known that adding even hundreds of more people at its stations would cause an immense swell that would eventually cause injuries if not death. And the extra crowds came in their thousands! Still, authorities gave the go-ahead for the promotion to take place on their train.
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Are the cops responsible for carrying out a lathi charge in an effort to control the unruly crowds? Sure. it would be easy to point fingers at the police for lathi-charging at fans, yet they had to choose between the safety of the crowd or the safety of one of India’s biggest stars. The fact that they were in such a situation in the first place speaks volumes about the lack of planning. The tragedy has surely put SRK, Railways and the police in the dock.