The Congress on Thursday held the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Maharashtra and at Centre responsible for the collapse of a foot overbridge in Mumbai. Police confirmed that the toll in the incident rose to six. The sixth person was identified as Mohan Elappa Kayangade.
The Opposition party said the BJP governments were “criminally culpable” of inaction and demanded the resignation of Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
“Modi government and Maharashtra government are criminally culpable for inaction leading to repeat tragedies: 29/9/2017 – Elphistone Stampede, 3/7/2018 – Andheri bridge collapse,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted hours after the incident, expressing condolences for the family of the victims. “Railway minister’s tall claims of audit have failed time and again. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal must resign or be sacked.”
Joint commissioner of police (Law and Order) Deven Bharati said the police have registered a case of causing death by negligence against concerned officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Railways, The Times of India reported. “More stringent sections will be applied if additional facts emerge during the course of the investigation,” he added.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also reacted to the news of the incident. “I am saddened on hearing the news of the Mumbai foot overbridge collapse,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. “I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have died. I pray that injured get relief soon.”
Meanwhile, Mumbai BJP leader Sanju Verma said the bridge collapse was a “natural calamity”. She made the comment during a panel discussion on Times Now. She denied that a “governance deficit” caused the accident. “A large part of the blame, for want of a better word, was on pedestrians,” the BBC quoted her as saying.
Verma, however, claimed that she was being misquoted. “Stop misquoting me..,” she tweeted. “I said citizens and government are both stakeholders in the governance paradigm and I cited Elphinstone Bridge example to showcase how despite being given alternative FOBs [foot overbridges] at Currey Road and Ambivli, people chose to use Elphinstone FOB despite being told it was being repaired!”
The foot overbridge, which collapsed around 7.30 pm, connects the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus with the Azad Maidan police station. It is also called “Kasab bridge” as Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists who struck Mumbai in November 2008, had used it during the attacks. The bridge, which is three decades old, is also close to the office of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
More people were not affected as, according to a witness, a nearby traffic signal was red, because of which several motorists were waiting and were saved when the overbridge collapsed.