24 injured as canopy collapses during PM’s rally in West Bengal

Midnapore, West Bengal: At least 24 people were injured at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally on Monday afternoon in West Bengal, when a marquee collapsed on a section of the crowd during his speech. This is being described as a major security breach. PM Modi appeared emotional when he visited the injured in hospital, reported ANI.

Cast iron columns were put up to shelter the crowd from rain at the rally in Midnapore. As a portion of the huge tent started collapsing, he stopped his speech to urge people to be safe and ordered his security personnel to take care of those injured.

“Those who have climbed up, please get down, all of you….please climb down. Those standing up there, please get down. Don’t run,” PM Modi appealed.

The injured were taken to a nearby hospital on motorcycles and even by the Prime Minister’s doctor, Special Protection Group personnel and on an ambulance that follows his convoy.

The BJP’s IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya tweeted that an injured woman asked the PM for an autograph and he obliged.

Heavy rains since morning might have let the tent to collapse in the afternoon. The shaky structure was weakened further as people tried to climb the poles for a glimpse of the prime Minister. Many of the injured are believed to be women.

Union minister SS Ahluwalia, one of the two BJP parliamentarians in Bengal, denied any mismanagement and said the tent collapsed under its own weight. “There were so many enthusiastic people. Just like booth jam, people were not allowed to come to the rally,” he said.

Officials called the incident a major security lapse and questioned whether the event and its venue was cleared after a government structural engineer’s go-ahead.

“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.