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Sad but true - What happened at the Metallica Bangalore gig!

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The Metallica show was awesome. It gave a lot of people what they were waiting for. It even gave some folks new iPhones, MP3 players and laptops. A day later as I write this, the band’s gone, the crowd’s gone, our belongings are gone and all that remain are some horrifying memories of a night that should have been epic.

Most of the tickets booked on the last few weeks never got delivered to their owners. Instead, they bounced back and each fan was forced to go the venue to collect their passes. The security was so intense at the ticket counter on the day before the event that it took me 3 long hours to get hold of my pass and the queue was all of fifty people long! We thought DNA’s certainly learnt its lesson from the Delhi debacle.

What happened before the concert:

  • Gates open at 4:30 P.M. letting in an ocean of 25000 fans.
  • Everyone is frisked at the main entrance, where fans are told that Backpacks are not allowed inside the venue. So, the folks travelling after the concert and others who’ve brought their backpacks to keep their belongings dry in the pouring rain, have no choice but to leave it at the ‘baggage counter’.
  • Just like the secret ingredient in Mr. Ping’s noodle soup, The ‘baggage counter’ is NOTHING! There is no baggage counter. The master plan that DNA had cooked up left us fans gaping! They are instructed to leave their bags in an open ground (completely filled with mud), stacked one over the other. Out in the rain. Nothing to keep our belongings safe from the rain OR the muck.
  • Left with no other option, fans decide to leave their belongings in the muck counter. Now comes the best part. DNA refuses to give tokens to the owners of the property, thereby escaping from additional responsibility and also destroying any chance of cataloging the items.
  • So, all in all, the counter organized for the Metallica fans was an open ground right outside the main entrance. There were no records, no tokens, no security and no protection from the rain.
  • And this was the infrastructure setup for fans paying 2750/- per ticket.

What happened after the concert:

  • Having left my backpack at the muck counter and being highly unsure about its safety, me and my friends got out early from the show. What we found at the muck counter was just an awe inspiring scene.
  • Bags were strewn around on the ground, trampled over by fans as well as locals.
  • What was happening was unclear, but after observing for a few minutes, we noticed some random men checking backpacks looking for heavy ones and waking away with them.
  • Worse, little kids were opening the backpacks in situ and pulling out headphones, goggles and iPods out of bags and walking away.
  • There was not a single cop stationed at the spot. One security guard was present, taking care of about one thousand bags and dealing with about the same number of exasperated people.

Now, the folks who went for the show and somehow managed to find their belongings probably already know this much. What happened next was something that only a few unfortunate folks had to experience.

What happened next:

  • Having unsuccessfully searched for our belongings for over 2 hours, about 100 fans realized that their stuff was just not there. We started looking at other possibilities.
  • A couple of the fans waiting suddenly saw a guy picking up two backpacks, looking around and walking away with them. They chased him, caught him and brought him to the crowd, introducing him as the solution to our problem.
  • Soon, angry fans spotted another guy doing the same, and caught him as well.
  • The two gentlemen were turned over to the cops, who started shouting and swearing to the crowd about how they should not have brought their backpacks to the venue.
  • The cops roughened up the suspects a bit and took them to the High Grounds police station, without a word to the stranded fans. No information was given about what was to happen to them, if a case would be registered or if our testimonies would be required.
  • In the meantime, another fan spots a guy sneaking into an adjacent wedding hall with a backpack. A few people follow him into the hall and find a stash of 15 empty backpacks, all meticulously cleared of their contents.
  • This is reported to the cops, who rush to the venue and instruct the hall personnel to lock down the hall from inside. Those of us who could understand Kannada made out the words “Your work’s done, now close the *ing door”, said by a cop to who seemed like the supervisor of the hall.
  • Confused fans who now see some hope, start milling up in front of the wedding hall. The next part is the one that made our night.
  • Fans run from the venue and those who tried to talk calmly to the higher ranking cops were beaten up more.
  • Adding insult to injury, the two suspects who were earlier taken to the police station were brought back and released right in front of the crowd. Unscathed and free to go, they go INTO the wedding hall and lock it again.
  • We then went to the high Grounds police station, were we were informed that a complaint could not be lodged as it was ‘late at night’. The cops stated the reason that their superior was not present, and without him, a case could not be registered.

So there we were, lost in the middle of the night, a few tens of thousands rupees worth of belongings cheaper, having none to go to. DNA denied any responsibility. So did the cops. And to emphasize that point, they beat us up with lathis. Who’s going to return Anuj his laptop, external hard disk and 4 months’ worth of research notes? Who will return the couple from Malaysia their flight tickets, passports and money? What will happen to the iPods and iPhones that went missing? And what of the dozens of passports and ID cards? Frankly, we don’t know.

DNA will have to pay. So will the cops.

We will pursue the case with all we have. But well, we don’t know. Spread the word. This could have been you.

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