Midnapore: A makeshift tent collapsed at the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in Midnapore on Monday, injuring 90 people including 50 women, when he was midway through his speech, police and hospital sources said.
The tent was erected next to the main entrance of the rally venue to shelter people from the rain.
The prime minister saw the tent collapsing during his speech and immediately instructed special protection group (SPG) personnel standing near him to look after the people and attend to the injured, officials said.
West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria said the 90 injured people have been admitted to the West Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
Two of the injured were rushed to a Kolkata hospital in serious condition, while the rest are out of danger and are being released gradually. Investigation into the incident has begun, he said. Hospital authorities when contacted said the injured included about 50 women.
The local BJP unit as well as Modi's personal staff, including his doctor and SPG personnel, swung into action to help the injured, officials said.
Modi also visited the injured at the hospital later as did state BJP president Dilip Ghosh and senior district officials.
Many enthusiastic BJP supporters had climbed the makeshift marquee during the rally. The prime minister briefly stopped his speech and was heard repeatedly asking them to get down, officials said.
Eyewitnesses said that some people clambered on top of the marquee, which was covered with tarpaulin. The structure could not withstand their weight and collapsed leading to several in the gathering, including women, being injured, they said.
They said that it could have been a major accident.
A BJP functionary said the injured were taken to hospital by the ambulance in the prime minister's convoy. After addressing the rally, the prime minister went to the hospital and spoke to some of the injured.
A woman, who was injured, asked for an autograph when the prime minister visited the hospital and he obliged, officials said.
Continuing his speech after the tent collapse, Modi complimented the people in the rally for showing discipline and helping the injured.
"Even after the tent collapsed, the people present there helped others. No one fled. They maintained discipline," he said.
When asked about the accident, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the poles of the tent fell as the ground was completely wet after the rains. Also, many people climbed atop the tent which could not take their weight.
He said police and local security personnel should have been more careful and should not have allowed supporters to climb the tent.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the state government would provide all medical assistance to those injured in the rally.
"We pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured at the Midnapore rally today (Monday). The government is giving all help for medical treatment," Banerjee wrote on her Twitter handle.
Rajoria said four police personnel were assaulted at Mohanpur area, 12 kilometres from the town during the rally when they stopped some men from entering the town in view of the crowd.
The identity of the assaulters are yet to be known, he said, adding that inquiry into the incident has started and strict police action will be taken against them.
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Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 09:08:30 IST