Barge tragedy: BJP MLA seeks culpable homicide case against Afcons

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Mumbai, May 22 (PTI) Maharashtra BJP leader Ashish Shelar on Saturday demanded that Afcons Infrastructure whose chartered barge P305 sank in the Arabian sea on May 17 when cyclone Tauktae stormed past the Mumbai coast, leaving 60 onboard personnel dead so far, be charged with culpable homicide.

Speaking to reporters after a delegation of the Akhil Bhartiya Navik Sangh met Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale here, the former Maharashtra minister also alleged the state government and the police are trying to shield owners of the firm.

“Captain Rakesh Ballav of the P305 barge put the life of the employees in danger. A case has been filed in this regard but it seems it is not the fact. How can you hold the captain alone responsible for the entire accident? The contractor company is solely responsible for this incident. It seems the company is trying to run away from the situation. The company should be charged with culpable homicide for putting the lives of 80 people in danger,” Shelar said.

He also accused Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies NCP and Congress of politicizing the tragedy after they demanded the resignation of Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

'I had a feeling of something going wrong in the case. They seem to have habitually politicizing everything. Why the Maharashtra government and the state police are trying to save owners of the Afcons Infrastructure Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Limited, director Prem Shivam, Ashwini Kumar and one person named Pai ? The captain of the barge who is yet to be traced cannot present his version. Who the Maharashtra government is trying to save?' Shelar questioned.

Shelar said Maharashtra chief minister is a sensitive person who should try to ensure that the real victims of the tragedy get justice.

The death toll in the P305 tragedy reached 60 on Friday with the recovery of 11 more bodies even as the Navy and the Coast Guard continued the search for the 15 missing personnel from the barge and 11 from Varaprada.

Of the 261 personnel who were on barge P305, 186 have been recovered so far. Of the 13 persons on Varaprada, two have been rescued.

Mumbai police have announced they will conduct a probe as to why the ill-fated barge remained in the turbulent area despite warnings about cyclone Tauktae, an official said. The police have also registered accidental death reports in connection with the death of the personnel on the barge.

A case of culpable homicide was registered against captain Ballav and some other persons after the barge sank in the Arabian Sea.

Afcons Infrastructure on Friday said it will provide compensation ranging from Rs 35-75 lakh to the families of the deceased personnel. PTI ND NSK NSK

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