Mumbai Police identifies, hands over bodies from Barge P305

Political parties trade charges on fixing responsibility

Mumbai Police on Saturday said that it had received a total of 61 dead bodies from Barge P305 that sunk in the Arabian Sea during Cyclone Tauktae. The police on Friday had registered an FIR against the captain of the barge and others.

“We have identified 31 dead bodies and 28 bodies have been handed over to their relatives. We are proceeding on ascertaining remaining 30 bodies for which DNA sampling is being done. We will soon be able to identify those bodies. The Yellow Gate Police Station is doing further process,” said Mumbai Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Police S. Chaitanya.

Meanwhile, a day after an FIR was registered against the barge’s captain Rakesh Ballav and others, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday questioned whether he was being made a scapegoat. “How can only captain be held responsible for this tragedy? The contractor company should be held responsible. This private company seem to be escaping from its responsibility. Therefore, this company must face action for being responsible for homicide,” said senior BJP leader and MLA Ashish Shelar.

Mr. Shelar claimed that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were playing politics by demanding the resignation of the Union Minister. “The Centre has already ordered an inquiry. But is the State Police trying to save Shapoorji Pallonji, the owners of Afcons Infrastructure? Directors of Afcons should face action at the earliest,” said Mr. Shelar.

The NCP on Friday had said that along with the captain of the barge, the private contractor Afcons and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) should also face legal action. Both the Congress and the NCP have already demanding the resignation of Central Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Out of a total of 261 personnel caught in the cyclone, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have rescued over 186, and bodies of 61 have been recovered as of now. Search operations for mission individuals is still in progress. Three barges and an anchor deployed by private contractor Afcons for state owner ONGC went adrift after being caught in high winds due to cyclone Tauktae. It is alleged that despite several warnings issued earlier, the workers were not offloaded on land, leading to tragedy.

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