Midnapore: At least 67 people were injured after a portion of a makeshift tent collapsed during a rally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in West Bengal's Midnapore district on Monday.
The incident took place around 1pm when thousands of people gathered at Midnapore College ground to take part in the kisan sabha. The tent, officials said, was erected next to the main entrance of the venue to shelter people from the rain.
Speaking to News18, Dr. Panchanan Kundu, Principal of Midnapur Medical College and Hospital, said, “A total of 67 people have been injured in the incident, including 52 male, 14 female and a baby boy. Six of the injured have undergone CT scan and all are out of danger.”
Sensing that the mishap could lead to a stampede, PM Modi asked people not to panic and asked the security personnel and the Special Protection Group (SPG) to help those who were trapped inside the crumbled structure.
Many enthusiastic BJP supporters climbed the makeshift marquee during the rally and PM Modi briefly stopped his speech and repeatedly asked them to get down.
"Please get down from the tent. Please don’t climb on it. You will be hurt. Please don’t panic. Everything is alright,” PM Modi said.
Giving details of the incident, eyewitnesses added that some people clambered on top of the marquee, which was covered with tarpaulin. The structure could not withstand the weight of the people and collapsed, leading to several in the gathering, including women, being injured, they said.
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.
The makeshift tent that collapsed during PM Modi's rally in Midnapore on Monday. (PTI Photo)
Most of the injured have been admitted to hospital, an official said, adding that the number could rise. After addressing the rally, the PM went to the hospital to visit the injured.
According to officials, the prime minister saw the tent collapsing while he was in the middle of his speech. He immediately instructed the SPG personnel standing near him to look after the people and attend to the injured.
After a brief pause, PM Modi started his speech again and said, “People in Bengal are very courageous. Despite the crumbling down of one of the tents, people preferred to stand here amid heavy rains. I would like to salute you all. I have never witnessed such dedication before.”
"Even after the tent collapsed, the people present there helped others. No one fled. They maintained discipline."