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11 drown as 2 boats capsize during idol immersion in MP

Eleven people drowned when two boats carrying them capsized during Ganesh idol immersion at Lower Lake in Bhopal early on Friday morning, a police official said.

At least 18 people from Piplani area in Bhopal were travelling on two boats for the immersion at Khatlapura ghat with the help of a crane when the incident took place at around 5 am, police officials said.

“When one of the boats capsized, the people jumped on the second boat which also capsized,” police officials said.

Deputy inspector general of police, Bhopal Irashad Wali said, an FIR was lodged by Jehangirabad police station against two boatmen Akash Batham and Changu Batham under Section 304-A (Causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code) .

State Disaster Emergency Response Force (SDERF) carried out rescue operation for 10 hours. Additional director general of police, SDERF DC Sagar said, “Witnesses said there were 19 people on the boats. Bodies of 11 fished out and seven were rescued. We were looking for remaining one person, but the search was called off after no one filed a missing complaint. There must be confusion regarding the number as rescued people are not aware of exact number of people on the boat when it capsized.”

One of the survivors, Rahul Rana, 22, said, “We asked the boatmen to not allow more persons on the boat but they didn’t pay any attention. Not a single police personnel or municipal corporation personnel was present at the ghat.”

Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. He said that those found guilty will be punished and announced a compensation of ₹11 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased.

Public relations minister PC Sharma said it needed to be inquired as to how so many people were allowed to carry the idol in the boats.

“Now, no idols will be allowed to immerse between 12 midnight and 6 AM,” he said.

Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur said, “It was criminal negligence on part of the authorities concerned and an FIR should be registered against them with police.”

Former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also accused Bhopal district administration, police and Bhopal Municipal Corporation for negligence. “I heard that Rs 4 lakh compensation will be given to the families of the victims. In my view, four lakh is not enough… The officials on duty should have stopped the overcrowded boat from entering the lake,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.

Bhopal Municipal Corporation commissioner B Vijaya Dutta, however, said, “All the safety arrangements were made at the ghat. Two divers had been appointed and the lifesaving jackets and tubes were also available at the ghats but the persons, who died, didn’t wear it.”

The commissioner suspended revenue inspector Anil Gwahne and an assistant sub-inspector of police Shivachan Yadav for dereliction of duties, civil engineer RK Saxena and fire station officer Sajid Khan.

(With Agency inputs)

First Published:
Sep 14, 2019 01:10 IST

Source: HindustanTimes