Stabbing may lead to Bhangra Blowout changes

University officials are evaluating a stabbing that occurred outside a student organization-sponsored party March 27 to determine if any changes will be made to the event next year.

Twenty-year-old Ranjit Singh died and two others were injured near the Old Post Office Pavilion at 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue about one hour after the Bhangra Blowout after-party. The South Asian Society-sponsored Bhangra Blowout, an annual dance competition at D.A.R. Constitution Hall, drew thousands from across the country.

“We’ve been reflecting on the weekend and gathering facts,” said Helen Cannaday, assistant vice president of Student and Academic Support Services.

Cannaday said she met individually with officials from the South Asian Society, Student Activities Center and the Bhangra Blowout planning team last week. GW’s media relations and general counsel offices have also been involved in these discussions, which have focused on “fact finding.”

University officials have given the future of Bhangra Blowout “a lot of thought,” she said. Bhangra is a type of dancing that originated in the Punjab region of India.

“We are constantly thinking about it, but we’ve put things on hold until we hear more about our attacker,” Cannaday said. “We’re not making any recommendations about the future because we are still undergoing the investigation.”

There is no evidence that any of the people involved in the altercation, which occurred at about 3 a.m., are GW students. Discussions about future Bhangra Blowouts hinge partly on whether students were involved.

“If it happened inside the event or with our students for sure, we would be looking at it differently,” Cannaday said, adding that it could have been a “random act of violence.”

Gurpal Singh said his son was trying to stop the fight when he was stabbed. Ranjit, who was “hard-working,” “respectful” and “always smiling,” did not like to fight, he said.

“It is bad luck for me and my family and him,” the father said in an interview Friday from his New Jersey home.

He added that his son rarely took off time from his job at a convenience store, but decided to attend Bhangra Blowout because of his strong interest in Bhangra dancing. Two years ago, Ranjit moved from India, where he taught Bhangra, his father said.

He added that his family is not considering taking any legal action against GW or the Old Post Office Pavilion, but hopes police will catch the perpetrators quickly.

“We don’t like to take the law into our hands,” he said. “I pray to God, please catch the guys very soon.”

Once more information is available, SASS officials will meet with officials from University Police and SAC, Cannaday said.

“We will look at incidents that have taken place in the past couple of years to determine whether to move forward with these types of events,” she said. GW has hosted Bhangra Blowout, one of the largest intercollegiate dance competitions of its kind, for 12 years.

The University and the South Asian Society decided to heighten security at the after-party this year, reducing the number of tickets sold from 2,500 to 1,250. There were also more than 35 security guards in the Old Post Office Pavilion, which has metal detectors visitors must pass through because it is a federal building.

Cannaday said rumored scuffles that have occurred in past years at the after-party “factored into” their decision to heighten security this year, but were not the only considerations.

“In the past couple of years we have had some instances that have occurred,” Cannaday said. “History teaches us a lot.”

The after-party featured music, dancing and alcohol for people 21 and older.

“We just decided that 2,500 is a huge number. We agreed that we should increase the amount of security,” Cannaday said. “When you have crowds in general and young people and alcohol in a contained space you just never know … things could happen.”

The Old Post Office Pavilion’s management has not begun discussing whether the after-party will take place there again next year, said Rodney Dyer, the building’s general manager.

He declined to comment on the stabbing until after the investigation is over. He also would not talk about whether federal buildings should be used to host late-night parties serving alcohol, but said he is aware of the debate and called it a “serious issue in the city.”

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