ISLAMABAD-The fourth edition of Soli’s festival held at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on Saturday had to be halted after hundreds of fake-ticket holders stormed the venue.

Only two of five performers got to play at the show. The organisers said people have broken through barricades after Saturday’s denial of entry to the event. Many then climbed to a VIP stage that collapsed due to overcrowding and caused injuries. Few people, both women and men, reported being molested and sexually assaulted in the ensuing chaos.

Following the several accounts that were shared on social media, an FIR is being registered against the organisers by the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad (DCI), according to their Twitter handle.

An Instagram user and festival attendee, Shanza, wrote about her experience. She said she lost consciousness when the VIP enclosure fell and when she regained consciousness, a guy was trying to snatch her bag. She said he was almost strangling her with the strap that was now around her neck. She said when she looked at her sister, whose leg was stuck under a grill, a guy was on top of her.

“Where are you now Solis festival? How are you planning on compensating the physical pain, mental trauma [and] sexual harassment?”

The Solis festival organisers penned a lengthy note on their Instagram, which reads: “Despite all the challenges of putting together such an experience in Pakistan (things you don’t see behind the scenes, like finding the right speakers, pyro, the security gates that need to be built from scratch, to convincing our artists that Pakistan is indeed safe and beautiful), we made it happen. Not once, not even three times in 2019, but for the 4th time in Islamabad till the incident hours after doors opened.”

It continued, “We chose the venue and our security based on the number of tickets sold and made arrangements based on this. We warned against fake tickets on numerous occasions. However, we underestimated the sheer volume of them being sold illegally. These people were denied entry, but broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weigh, destroyed our stage and putting everyone’s safety at risk.”

The organisers then apologised to the several attendees who entered the festival bearing original tickets.