West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met the victims of a tent collapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally, at a hospital in Midnapore on Thursday. The victims, who were mostly supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), were attending the rally on Monday, 16 July, when a canopy fell on them.
Banerjee, who is the chief of Trinamool Congress, was seen talking to some of the injured recuperating at the hospital. She also enquired about their treatment from the doctors.
The CM also announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to three of the injured due to their poor economic condition.
“I have spoken to the health secretary. Three of the injured will be given Rs 1 lakh each from the CM’s relief fund,” Banerjee told reporters outside the hospital.
On Monday, immediately after the incident, Banerjee had posted a tweet praying for the speedy recovery of the 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,” the TMC supremo said.
We pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured at the Midnapore rally today. The government is giving all help for medical treatment
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 16, 2018
Tent collapse and blame game
The incident happened even as the Prime Minister kept asking the crowd to be cautious. Many enthusiastic BJP supporters were crowded inside a huge tent erected next to the main entrance of the rally venue when it collapsed.
According to police, at least 20 people were injured and were immediately shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
As soon as he saw the tent fall on the people, the PM instructed his SPG personnel to rush to the aid of the injured. The local BJP unit as well as Modi’s personal staff, including his doctor, swung into action to help the injured and carry them to hospital.
The PM visited the hospital immediately after concluding his speech at the rally.
But the blame game over the tent collapse continued with the state government and the BJP accusing each other over who was responsible for the structural reinforcement of the tent and the stage.
In a meeting with the district police administration on Tuesday, 17 July, the central agencies expressed dissatisfaction on the steps taken by the state government’s Public Works Department (PWD) while issuing fitness certificate for the stages meant for the Prime Minister.
While the police filed a case against the Bengal BJP, the organiser of the rally, for “extreme negligence of duty”, the BJP on Wednesday said that it would file a police complaint against the state PWD for the same reason.
According to the officials, the central agencies highlighted the norms of the ‘Blue Book’ which the PWD officials did not follow. According to the norms, any stage, tent, dais or any temporary structure to be used by the Prime Minister in any of his public meetings would first be stress-tested by an engineer for structural stability and then certified by fire department before being used.
The executive engineer of PWD, however, claimed that they had examined the two daises, one for the PM and another one for other dignitaries as per the norms of the ‘Blue Book’ and certified them. Other makeshift tents which were erected for the audience were not examined by them as these were not under their purview.
Amidst this situation, a Midnapore resident lodged a complaint with regard to the tent collapse, accusing the ‘decorator, organisers and unknown persons’ of several crimes, including culpable homicide, which the local police converted into an FIR. A few hours later, the state BJP threatened to move Calcutta High Court against the state police for alleged lapses and negligence.
A high-level central team is in Midnapore to assess the circumstances that led to the tent collapse during Prime Minister’s rally on Monday, which left around 100 people injured.