The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, which is spearheading the statehood movement in Darjeeling, came under fire on Sunday as the toll in Saturday’s bridge collapse at Bijanbari valley rose to 34.
On Saturday afternoon, the frail suspension bridge over Chota Rangit river had collapsed during a meeting of the GJM. Over 200 people standing on the bridge had hurtled down 65 feet below. More than 130 people were injured.
Most of the victims were women and children, who had gone to hear the address of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
The locals are fuming over the irrationality of organising the programme across the bridge. “They could have done it in Bijanbari town. Everyone knew the frail bridge would not support such a crowd,” said 30-year old Mingma Lama, who lost her elder brother and her niece.
On Sunday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced an ex gratia of R2 lakh for the families of each of the deceased.