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Stampede-like situation forces Modi to cut short Thakurnagar rally

Stampede-like situation forces Modi to cut short Thakurnagar rally

(Eds: Incorporates PM's apology) Durgapur/Thakurnagar (WB), Feb 2 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut short his speech at a rally here in North 24 Parganas district on Saturday after a stampede-like situation broke out at the venue in which many people were injured.Several women and children were injured at the rally, a senior police officer said.While Modi was addressing the well-attended rally of the Matua community, hundreds of his supporters standing outside the venue tried to barge into the inner ring of the rally ground, leading to the commotion, the officer said.The hue and cry resulted in a security scare and senior police and SPG officials tried to stop people from crossing the barricade and enter the no-man's security zone.Later, police officials formed a human chain to stop people from going near the stage, from where the prime minster was addressing the crowd.Modi tried to pacify the crowd by asking them to stay put in their places and stop trying to come to the front of the inner ring.However, his pleas went unheard as the supporters startedthrowing chairs inside the no-man's zone in front of the stageto make space for others to stand in the inner ring, which wasearmarked for women.Following the commotion, Modi abruptly cut short hisspeech, saying he had another rally to attend and decided toleave the venue.Several women and children fainted during thestampede-like situation and were rushed to the hospital forprimary treatment, the police officer said.Some children, who were separated from their parentsdue to the commotion, were taken to a nearby help desk. They werelater handed over to their parents.Modi later apologised for the discomfort caused to the people."I sympathise with you and also apologise for the incident," Modi said at another rally at the Nehru Stadium in West Bengal's Durgapur.This venue was also full with people spilling over outside the complex.The state BJP leadership, however, claimed that only a few people were injured in the Thakurnagar incident."Very few people were injured. They sustained minorinjuries. One person was taken to the hospital and wasreleased after primary treatment," BJP state general secretaryPratap Banerjee said.Slamming the BJP, TMC North 24 Paraganas districtpresident Jyotipriyo Mullick said, "Those who can't organise arally in a disciplined manner should stop dreaming ofconquering Bengal. The people of Bengal stand with MamataBanerjee."The incident brought back memories of Modi's rally inWest Midnapore district on July 16 last year when a make-shiftstage collapsed leading to injuries to several persons.The Trinamool Congress has decided to take out aprotest march near the site of the prime minister's rally onSaturday evening wearing black masks. PTI PNT AMR SNS NSD JM DPB