Chilika boat tragedy: Boatman held after discharge from MKCG

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Berhampur: Two days after the tragic boat mishap in Chilika lake, Rambha Police today arrested the boatman soon after his discharge from MKCG Medical College and Hospital here.

Report said the boatman Bidesh Mallick alias Hatia along with other injured passengers of the ill-fated boat were rescued and admitted to MKCG hospital on Saturday. As the hospital authorities discharged Mallick after his recovery, he was detained by the MKCG Medical Outpost police. Later, the Rambha Police arrived at the outpost and arrested him.

Talking to media persons, IIC of Rambha Police Station Prasant Kumar Das said a case has been registered against Mallick under section 280, 337, 338, 304 and 34 of the IPC for ferrying the boat without license and carrying passengers without ensuring safety measures in gross violation of rules.   “We will forward the boatman to court after interrogating him about the mishap”, he added.

The IIC also informed that police would take similar action against another boatman, a minor, who was manning the ill-fated boat with Mallick.

Asked whether the police has interrogated some of the passengers as to how they could not know that the boat in which they were travelling was a fishing boat which had holes, Das said the passengers said by the time they noticed some holes in the boat, it was too late as the boat was already in the deep waters and far away from the shore.

The arrested boatman said he had tried his best to save the lives of the passengers. “After rescuing some passengers, I lost my conscious due to severe exhaustion. After I regained my conscious, I found myself at the hospital,” he added.

He said though he had told the passengers that he can carry a maximum of 15 passengers, they did not pay heed to his advice and as a result, the tragic incident took place.

Mallick also said he had asked the passengers to set in the middle of the boat. But they did not listen and sat on one side of the boat which lost balance and the lake water entered into the boat which later capsized.

He, however, said though it was a fishing boat, he used to ferry a couple of tourists occasionally.

Notably, 29 members (18 male, 8 female and 3 children) of a family and their relatives and friends of Sabulia village were on the way to Ghantasila inside the lake for a picnic on Saturday when the boatman lost control of the overloaded boat which capsized.

While four persons including two children died in the mishap, the remaining passengers were rescued by the local fishermen and the Fire Brigade team.

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