April 26, 2015 4:04:04 am
By Subham Dutta
The day dawned overcast, and a drizzle started almost at the same time as polls opened. There was enthusiasm in the air — the contest for the Siliguri municipality is one of the big fights between the TMC and CPM.
At Shalugaraha neighbourhood on the outskirts of the town, a group of Gorkha women walked to the polling booth, laughing and talking. And then, suddenly, the ground began to shake under their feet.
The laughter vanished, hands flew to mouths in horror, and as the shaking steadily turned more violent, cries of alarm rang out. As they struggled to stay on their feet without falling, they knelt on the ground as rocked like a boat on water.
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All around them, conch shells were blowing, and shouts of “Bhukamp, bhukamp, bhago” were in the air. The Shalugaraha booth seemed to have become suddenly deserted.
Soon afterward came news of the death of Manglu Roy, a daily wageearner in the Bhaktinagar police station area of the town. A wall fell on him, and Manglu succumbed while he was being taken to North Bengal Medical College Hospital.
At Pradhan Nagar, the first floor balcony of a building hung precariously in the air. Across the town, many buildings had developed cracks. In Pradhannagar, the balcony of a three-storey building collapsed. At polling booths across Siliguri, there was panic and polling had to be suspended for some time.
Siliguri’s biggest attraction, the city centre, was teeming with shoppers who had come out of the building in panic. A doctor at the Neotia Get Well Hospital said all patients were evacuated from the upper floors and brought down to the ground floor.
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