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Security breach forces PM to cut short speech at rally in Bengal

Abhishek Law Bongaon (North 24 Parganas) | Updated on February 02, 2019 Published on February 02, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with party leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy during the International Matua Maha Sammelan and Dharma Sabha at Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas, on Saturday. - PTI   -  PTI

An apparent security breach took place at Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s rally at Ashoknagar in North 24 Parganas, some 100-odd km from the city.

The breach, which led to a stampede-like situation, forced the Prime Minister to cut short his speech to 20-odd minutes, before the SPG whisked him away.

The crowd, consisting mostly of Matuas - a Hindu refugee community predominant in the North 24 Parganas and neighbouring Nadia districts of the state - broke the barricades and headed towards the stage. The security zone was breached.

The chaos saw many in the crowd fall ill and get injured. However, no casualty has yet been reported.

This is the third such public meeting of the PM where a security breach has taken place. The first breach happened at Santiniketan in Birbhum and the second at Midnapore Town in Paschim Medinipur.

Political Gains

Thakurnagar, a border town with a significant Hindu refugee population, is being eyed by the BJP to reap political gains ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The Matuas - one such refugee group - hold considerable sway in the area, which serves as the epicentre of the Bongaon Parliamentary seat. The community has been demanding Indian citizenship for years now.

The BJP has been making inroads in this area for quite some time: In fact, the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha is said to have helped the saffron party consolidate its support-base amongst the Matua community.

A factional feud in the community has also helped the BJP make inroads there.

PM apologises

Later in the day, while speaking at another rally at Assansol in West Burdwan district of West Bengal, the Prime Minister apologised for the “inconvenience caused” during the Thakurnagar event.

“I am overwhelmed by the love people showered on me at Thakurnagar. But, people also need to be patient. I apologise for the inconvenience caused, particularly to women and children,” Modi said at Assansol.

Published on February 02, 2019
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