New Delhi: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan's promotional train ride for his new release "Raees" is under intense scrutiny after the death of a 45-year-old man last night allegedly in the middle of fan frenzy at a railway station in Gujarat.
Farheed Khan Pathan, said to be a politician in Vadodara, died of a heart attack allegedly after he was caught in the huge crush of fans gathered to see the star at the station. Mr Pathan had come with his wife and daughter to meet his relative, a journalist who was also travelling on the train.
The crowd that showed up for the actor's brief Vadodara stop was more than three times what had been anticipated. Railway policemen allegedly used batons to control the crowd, which led to a stampede. The crowd went berserk when the train was pulling out and started running with it. Mr Pathan became breathless and fell unconscious, says his family. Two policemen were injured.
Mr Khan expressed pain and regretted that the incident took place despite security at the station.
"It is extremely unfortunate that someone has died...my prayers are with his family," he told reporters this morning, arriving to another mega crowd of fans at a station in Delhi.
"We felt bad as our team was going with us and everyone was happy during the entire journey. I hope his soul rests in peace and his family remains well," said the 51-year-old star.
The words didn't spare him sharp criticism.
"People suffered due to film promotion," charged senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya.
As the Railway Ministry confronted criticism that it had compromised public safety by allowing the Raees team to promote their movie this way, Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an investigation into possible lapses.
Senior Railway Police officer Sharad Singhal said the problem started when some fans started running with the train, thinking Shah Rukh Khan would come out again. "We formed a human chain and later had to use mild lathi charge since it could have meant a bigger tragedy as they could have been trapped between the train steps and platform,'' Mr Singhal said.
Shah Rukh Khan travelled from Mumbai to Delhi on the August Kranti Express as part of his promotional tour, "Raees by Rail" for the film which releases tomorrow.