Mumbai: The Yellow Gate police late on Friday arrested three persons in connection with sinking of accommodation barge Paapa-305 (P-305) at Heera oil field in Bombay High due to Cyclone Tauktae on May 17. The tragedy claimed 71 lives, while remaining 261 crew members were rescued by the Indian Navy warships which launched a massive search and rescue operation then.
The three arrested have been identifed as Nitinkumar Singh, Director of P-305’s shipping company, its technical superintendent Akhileshwar Tiwari and manager Prasad Rane. They were produced before the court on Saturday which remanded them to police custody till July 8. Following the tragedy, the Yellow Gate police on May 20 had registered an offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against captain of the barge Rakesh Ballav and others. Ballav had died in the tragedy.
The deputy commissioner of police, Port Zone, Ganesh Shinde confirmed the arrest and said the investigation is underway.
The offence was as registered on the complaint of senior engineer of the barge Mustafizur Rehaman Shaikh who was on the barge and survived. In his complaint, Shaikh alleged that the barge master and barge were responsible for the mishap as they were not in the favour of moving the barge despite the cyclone warning. They miscalculated and thought moving 200 meters away would be enough, while the other vessels there were moving to safer locations, he stated in his statement.
Of the 71 missing crew members of P-305, bodies of 67 have been identified and handed over to their families while four are still to be identified.
The police had also registered a similar offence in the case of tugboat Varaprada which sunk during the Tauktae as well. 11 people on board lost their lives when the tugboat sunk near Palghar coast. The police are yet to make any arrest in the case.