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West Bengal: Canopy collapses at Modi rally, injury toll rises to 67


More than 67 people were injured on Monday, July 16 after a section of a canopy caved in during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the Krishak Kalyan Samavesh rally in West Bengal’s Midnapore. The canopy was erected next to the main entrance of the rally venue to shelter people from rain. Many enthusiastic BJP supporters were seen crowding inside the canopy during the rally. The prime minister could be heard asking them to be careful.

The Prime Minister and the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the dais were, however, safe. He rushed to see the injured at Midnapore Medical College and Hospital after the meeting.

“Fortunately, none of them has got severe injuries,” Samit Dash, president of West Midnapore district unit of the BJP, said.

At least 67 people got injured at PM Modi’s rally in West Bengal, as a canopy collapsed at the venue, as reported by NDTV.

Volunteers and locals at the venue said a part of the tent gave away after some people climbed on the iron rods holding up the canopy. They said the heavy rains also added to the accident.

“We will investigate and file a case in the collapse incident,” said West Midnapore district police chief Alok Rajoria.

Dipak Mahato, an 18-year-old from Salboni, said he fell down after people started running following the structure’s collapse and injured his left hand.

“I was under the shed that caved in. Before I could escape an iron rod descended and hit my shoulder. My daughter-in-law who was accompanying me pulled me out. Otherwise, the injury would have been worse,” Swarna Mahato, who came to attend the rally, said.

Modi praised the audience for not leaving the spot even after a chaos following the incident.

“Today, I witnessed a new force of the people of Bengal. Can anyone imagine that one-third of the pandal came down and yet the meeting continued peacefully? I cannot think it happening anywhere. I shall remember this meeting for the rest of my life,” Modi said.

“There are so many people here despite heavy rains and obstructions. And now the meeting is continuing without a hitch despite the collapse,” he added. Sayantan Basu, one of the general secretaries of the state unit of BJP, asked people not to panic.

“The Prime Minister’s ambulance is being used to shift the injured to the hospital,” Basu said over the public address system immediately after Modi left the venue.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted assuring all help to those who were injured.

“We pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured at the Midnapore rally today. The government is giving all help for medical treatment,” Banerjee said.

Officials called the incident a major security lapse and questioned whether the event and its venue were cleared for the PM after a government structural engineer’s approval.

“Over Rs. 350 crore is spent each year on the PM’s security and if the venue of the most protected person is not structurally secured…,” an official said.

BJP president Amit Shah has his eye set on West Bengal and other coastal states where the party believes it can win more seats in the general elections scheduled to be held next year than it had managed in 2014 because of Modi’s popularity, the decline of Left parties and little sign of the revival of Congress’ fortunes.