Tent collapse at Modi’s rally in east India injures dozens

Supporters of Bhartiya Janta Party stand next to a damaged tent, which collapsed during a public meeting addressed by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not seen, at a college ground in Midnapore, India, on Monday. — AFP

KOLKATA, India — Several people were injured on Monday at a public rally for Narendra Modi after a tent collapsed on the Indian prime minister’s audience, police said.

Modi had started to extol his government’s achievements when the tent’s canopy fell onto the crowd amid heavy rain, seriously injuring two people.

“The incident happened about 100 meters from the dais as the prime minister began to address the rally,” senior state police official Anuj Sharma said.

“The prime minister paused and urged the people to stay calm.”

Television footage showed injured audience members being lifted to safety by the public.

Samir Dash, the district chief of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, said the tent collapsed because people tried to climb up the bamboo poles holding the tent aloft.

Towards the end of his speech, Modi hailed the audience and said he will remember this incident throughout his life.

“The people of Bengal today showed me what courage means. In spite of constant rain, they gathered here in lakhs and even after a part of the structure collapsed, they showed such discipline to take the injured to the hospital while letting the rally continue. I can’t thank you people enough for such positivity,” Modi said.

“I come from Gujarat. But I can’t think of such courage and discipline. I will never forget this rally in my whole life.”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “We pray for the speedy recovery of those injured at the Midnapore rally. The government is giving all help for their medical treatment.”

Modi later visited the local hospital to check on the injured.

One woman brought to the ward from the rally asked for the premier’s autograph as she lay in bed.

Modi is set to address a slew of public rallies in the coming months ahead of general elections next year. — Agencies