Probe Into Canopy Collapse At PM Modi Rally Finds Top Bengal Cops Were Missing

Probe Into Canopy Collapse At PM Modi Rally Finds Top Bengal Cops Were Missing

Courtesy : NJ02/08/2018 08:09

A central probe ordered into the collapse of a marquee at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in West Bengal's Midnapore has sought to fault the Mamata Banerjee government for the accident,triggering a fresh round of blame game between police officers at the centre and Bengal.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba confirmed to Media that the probe team headed by SK Sinha, secretary (security) at the Cabinet Secretariat,had submitted the report to the ministry.Nearly 90 people were hurt at PM Modi's rally in Bengal's Midnapore on July 17 when a section of the marquee collapsed.He,however,refused to speak on the findings of the report given the sensitive nature of the report.
The Special Protection Group,or SPG, a force carved out from various para-military and state police forces,is responsible for the Prime Minister's security. When the Prime Minister steps out,the state police concerned is responsible for the outer ring of security while the SPG handles the proximate security.
Government sources told that the probe report had indicted the Bengal government on multiple counts, right from the administration's approvals to the marquee and tents erected at the rally venue, the absence of senior police at the venue, to the state's non-cooperative approach right at the planning stage.
For one, the centre's investigation has alleged that senior Bengal police officers who should have been present to oversee arrangements had skipped the event.
"It has been established scientifically that none of the senior police officers had turned up at the rally venue to oversee security arrangements,"a senior government official told us.The lack of supervision over the state policemen reflected in how the police handled the crowds even before the accident, the official said.Like when people started tried to climb the supporting poles of the marquee for a glimpse of the prime minister, there were no policemen to stop them.
Again, the state police has been blamed for poor access control to the venue which had a capacity to accommodate 70,000.
"But about 100,000 people had turned up at the venue and the police did not stop them from entering the venue,"explains a senior official.
According to the centre's blue book that details the procedures to be adopted to protect the SPG protectees, it is mandatory for the public works department to clear every tent,stage or installation at the venue of any PM event under the direct supervision of the district magistrate.
The probe report sent to the home ministry questions how the state public works department gave a stability certificate to the tent and stage erected five days ahead of the event when it had rained so heavily before the event
The report states that cast-iron pipe required four screws to be pinned to the ground but only one screw was used; the pipes themselves were rusty at places. The ground, too, was wet and soggy and needed additional support, which was not given, the officials found. The tarpaulin cover had also become heavy because of the accumulated rain water and added to the load on the pipes.
"When the tent collapsed, the entire state administration went missing. How can they absolve themselves of this,"asked a senior home ministry functionary.
But Bengal officials hit back, accusing the SPG and central teams of trying to pin the blame on the state ruled by Trinamool Congress.
The police have already registered a case against the state BJP unit and the contractor hired to erect the tents for the party event.The Bengal BJP, which had attributed the accident to a deep-rooted conspiracy, later appeared to suggest there were other reasons as well.


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