Won’t Represent Gujarat Bridge Collapse Accused, Says Lawyers’ Body


At least 47 children, several women and elderly are among the dead (File)


Two lawyers’ bodies in Gujarat have decided that they will not represent the nine accused arrested over the bridge collapse in Morbi that killed 135 people. 

The British-era suspension bridge in Morbi, which had been closed since March for renovation, collapsed on Sunday night – just four days after it reopened to the public.

The Morbi Bar Association and Rajkot Bar Association this morning passed a resolution saying they will not represent the nine men who were arrested on Monday.  Among them are managers of Oreva  – the company that renovated the bridge – ticket collectors, bridge repair contractors and three security guards whose job was to control the crowds.

Gujarat-based Oreva has been accused of violating multiple safety rules, leading to the huge tragedy just four days after the bridge reopened to the public. But none of its top bosses have been arrested.

The bridge was opened to the public ahead of schedule by five months, the documents show. The Oreva Group, the company that renovated the bridge, did not take a fitness certificate from the civic authorities before opening the bridge, which Morbi municipal agency chief Sandipsinh Zala confirmed to NDTV on Sunday.

The company was bound by its contract to keep the bridge shut for at least eight to 12 months for maintenance and repairs. It was a “seriously irresponsible and careless gesture” to open the bridge last week, the police said in an FIR.

Opposition parties and locals have accused the state government of sparing the big fish and making scapegoats out of security guards, ticket sellers and lower level employees of Oreva.

Oreva’s Managing Director Jaysukhbhai Patel, who had claimed that the renovated bridge will hold up for at least eight to ten years, has not been seen since the tragedy, locals told NDTV.

Nearly 500 people were on the bridge when it collapsed. Though, the 150-year-old structure could take the weight of only about 125 people. At least 47 children, several women and elderly are among the dead, according to the officials. 


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