Police arrest absconding boat owner from Dibrugarh


GUWAHATI, Sept 13: Assam Police have arrested the owner of the ill-fated boat, “Maa Kamala” that capsized in the Brahmaputra near Nimatighat in Jorhat district last Wednesday.

Pani Ram Kalita, who was absconding since the mishap, was arrested by Dibrugarh Police on Monday, a day after his son, along with nine other accused, including six inland water transport department officials, have been detained.

Confirming the development, Special director general of police G.P Singh informed through Twitter: “Reference to the Nimatighat ferry accident, the owner of the boat involved in disaster, Pani Ram Kalita has been arrested by Dibrugarh Police while he was trying for admission to a hospital. Follow up investigation would be done by Jorhat Police.”

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had, a day after the tragic incident, directed the Jorhat Police to register a criminal case against those responsible for the mishap.

Reportedly, Jorhat Police had located the movement of Kalita, and informed their counterparts in Dibrugarh. He was subsequently arrested and taken back to Jorhat for interrogation.

Earlier, Jorhat Police had registered a case under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) read with Section 34 (criminal act done by several persons for the common intention of all) of the IPC.

Two passengers have died in the boat mishap, while search operations by NDRF and SDRF teams are under way to trace another.

Meanwhile, following the ban on plying of single-engine boats in the Brahmaputra in the wake of the mishap, people in the river island of Majuli are staring at a food crisis, with no goods-carrying ferries transporting essential items over the past few days.

Prior to the ban, 16 such goods-carrying ferries were transporting essential goods to Kamalabari and Aphalamukh ghats regularly.

On the other hand, passengers have been compelled to queue up from the wee hours to get tickets to the six government ferries being run post the mishap even as many have alleged to have been deprived of tickets even after standing in the queue for several hours.

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