3 weeks on, body of P-305 barge master handed over to family, 17 more bodies left

THREE WEEKS after barge P-305 sank in the Arabian Sea, Yellow Gate police on Monday handed over the body of barge master Rakesh Ballav to his family members.

On May 17, the barge with 261 people on-board had drifted due to cyclone Tauktae and hit an oil rig at Bombay High, around 70km in the Arabian Sea from Mumbai shore, leading to the death of 75 people.

Among 186 people, who were rescued by the Indian Navy, was chief engineer Mustafizur Rehman Shaikh, who blamed Ballav and others for not taking adequate safety measures to prevent the incident. Based on Shaikh’s statement, an FIR was registered against Ballav and others under Sections 304(2) (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all) of the IPC. Since Ballav died, the police will inform the court and file an abated summary report. The investigation will continue to find out the culpability of other accused. The police will hand over 17 more bodies to respective families after DNA tests. Of these 17 bodies, 15 are kept at the JJ Hospital mortuary, including eight that were brought from Raigad, and remaining two are in Valsad.

Of the 13 crew members on-board anchor handling tug boat Varaprada, eight have been identified. Total 14 bodies from barge P-305 are yet to be identified.

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