Violence erupts after boat capsizes in Bengal

Kolkata: Five people went missing after a boat capsized in the Hooghly river in West Bengal’s Burdwan district, and alleging delays in rescue operations people rioted, police said on Sunday.

Initially, police said 20 people were missing when the overcrowded boat capsized on Saturday night. Later, Burdwan Superintendent of Police Gaurav Sharma said only five were missing.

But locals claimed the number of the missing was over 50.

“The boat had over 100 passengers including many children. The boat capsized around 11.00 p.m. but the police came only in the morning. Scores of people are missing,” said a man.

Sharma said divers have been pressed into service and a rescue and search operation was on.

The boat was on its way from Kalna Ghat in Burdwan to Shantipur in Nadia district when it capsized in Hooghly.

Angered by the delays in rescue work, people set on fire several boats in Shantipur’s Nrisinghapur Ghat jetty and stoned policeman, injuring at least two security personnel.

“We had to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd. The situation is now under control,” said Nadia Superintendent of Police S.R. Jhajharia.

“So far no body has been found. We are in the process of ascertaining the exact number of people missing in the incident,” he added.

Denying that the delay was intentional, a police official said they were waiting for the arrival of personnel from the disaster management group to begin the search.

State Minister Swapan Debnath denied the charge of delay.

“Rescue operation began as soon as the administration got the news. Already several people have been rescued. At the behest of their political masters, some people are making false accusations,” he said after visiting the accident site.