Near-stampede as villagers queue to submit documents to get Amphan relief
While the Trinamool Congress said that it was propaganda spread by the opposition that led to the chaos, the BJP said that villagers lost faith in the ruling party because of corruption and hence rushed to the BDO’s office to get their names enrolled for relief.Updated: Jul 02, 2020 16:47 IST
It was a near-stampede situation as thousands of villagers, without face masks and physical distancing, lined up since 6 am to submit documents for Amphan relief near a government office in south Bengal on Thursday. Few people were injured in the melee.
The Villagers had started gathering outside the Block Development Officer’s office at Kultali in South 24 Parganas, one of the worst cyclone-hit areas, since early morning. Around 10 am, when the gates opened, there was complete chaos as people made a dash for the counters.
While the Trinamool Congress said that it was propaganda spread by the opposition that led to the chaos, the BJP said that villagers lost faith in the ruling party because of corruption and hence rushed to the BDO’s office to get their names enrolled for relief.
“We had gathered at 6 am to submit our documents. The crowd was swelling every minute. Around 9:30 am there was a huge rush and several women, including me, fell down. Some people walked over me to reach the counter,” said Sandhya Mondol, who was dragged out by a man and escaped unhurt.
Such was the rush that at least three women had to be rushed to a local hospital, where they were treated and later discharged.
Locals said that most of the people who had gathered at the spot were not wearing masks and there was no social distancing.
“There were hardly any police personnel to maintain the queue. People were fighting for their turn. Hardly anyone was wearing a mask,” said Manas Halder, a resident of Kultali.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had asked the district magistrates that BDOs should prepare a list of villagers who have been affected by the Cyclone after a wave of protests erupted over allegations of corruption in the distribution of relief work and compensation.
“The process was going on smoothly. But some political parties spread a word that July 2 was the last date of submission of documents to get relief. People gathered in large numbers. It is true that there was no social distancing and many were not wearing masks,” said Manturam Pakhira, Sunderbans affairs minister.
He however said that only one woman was injured and had to be rushed to the hospital. Later, a large police contingent was deployed to bring the situation under control. More counters were also opened.
“The people are confused and have lost faith in the government. One day they are hearing they need to submit papers with the panchayat. Then their names are omitted because of corruption. The day after they get to know that they need to submit the documents with the BDO. This is what happens when there is no system,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of BJP’s West Bengal unit.