It was meant to be a night of fun and entertainment at Islamabad’s Solis Music & Arts Festival, but it all went wrong somehow with women alleging that had been sexually assaulted at the concert, while others reported injuries after the VIP platform collapsed, trapping several under the debris.
The February 15 ‘night of horrors’, as one Twitter user described it, has drawn widespread flak on social media, with concert attendees threatening to sue the organisers following their harrowing experience.
The organisers, in turn, blamed the melee on fake tickets and an unruly crowd that “broke our barricades and forced themselves in, climbing on VIP platforms which couldn’t take the weight and destroyed our stage putting everyone’s safety at risk.”
In the lengthy Instagram post, the Solis Festival organisers further said: “For you, our true fans, we absolutely could not put your safety and security at risk and had to stop the event. What some of you didn’t see was the further damage these individuals caused after we shut down the event.”
Women report assault
VIP tickets to the EDM festival were sold for up to 11,000 Pakistani rupees. However, for several women, who reported being groped and assaulted while they lay under the collapsed VIP stage, the lack of security and the hundreds entering the concert with fake tickets is being brought into scrutiny.
Instagram user Shanza G, who reportedly attended the Solis Festival, later posted graphic images of her injuries and those sustained by her friends. In a lengthy post, she also chronicled her own experience while trapped under the VIP stage.
“It’s just 30 minutes in, we’re at the front dancing and I blackout. What I realize next is the entire vip lounge collapsing. It was almost 7 feet high and I lost consciousness for a minute bec ig that’s just how your brain responds [sic],” she posted.
“… I couldn’t figure out what’s happening, all I remember is me struggling to get up and a guy starts snatching my bag, (I was wearing a crossbody bag and it was in my neck) I literally thought I’d suffocate or my neck’s going to break and the guys there pick up the grill and start pushing it back while we’re stuck in it. My sister’s screaming and so is my friend. I look at @saishaa.g and her leg’s stuck underneath the grill and some guy’s on top of her,” Shanza wrote, adding that they were panicking at this point and caught up in a stampede.
“…In this moment these filthy frustrated [expletive] get a chance and start touching, groping and harassing us, it took me a moment to realise what they’re doing bec I was in absolute hysteria,” she further stated.
While this was happening, Shanza said the music didn’t stop and the DJ kept playing.
The concert goer’s brother finally pulled them out of the debris. “What we see out is literally a group of men following a girl who’s walking her way in, a guy legit slapping a girl who accused him of harassing and a whole lotta other [expletive].”
Shanza stated the tissues and muscles in her leg were torn, while her best friend fractured her leg.
Twitter user Nayha Jehangir Khan also claimed to be at the event on the fateful night, posting a thread about being on the VIP stage as it collapsed. She recounted the night, blaming the overzealous crowds as “they broke the stage lights, stage, equipment,” she tweeted, adding: “The children and families who came to attend Solis Music Festival will only remember the fear and trauma of stag men gawking, pushing, mouths hung open with lust and grime. These men were ticket holders — buying a ticket does not mean you get to punch me and push me…”
Maya A Zafarr posted a video of the collapsed stage, tweeting: “I was at #solis festival and was on the VIPS platform that fell. Tragic. Hating it here. My knee hurts. Calling a lawyer.”
Another woman with a VIP ticket said she too experienced harassment after the stage collapsed.
“When I regained consciousness, a guy had ‘fallen’ on top of me... moving his hands all over my body ‘trying to get up’. I pushed him and [then] he spit on me. I tried to get up but I couldn’t,” Fatima Ahsan had said in a post to a private Facebook group titled Soul Sisters Pakistan, according to a screenshot circulating on Twitter.
Videos circulating on social media show people pushing down stage barriers and damaging equipment.
One Twitter user weighed in posting: “Ppl in Pakistan are not ready for electronic music festivals there is 0 regulation here on drugs and behaviour that follows as a result of which large scale harassment takes place at these venues #SolisFestival”
Others are comparing the event to the doomed Fyre Festival, 2017’s fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule.