The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Identity mix-up in ropeway mishap

Darjeeling, Oct. 20: Hours after declaring the names of the dead in the cable car crash, the district administration owned up to a goof-up.

Additional district magistrate of Darjeeling P. Sherpa said Bandana Maity, who was pronounced dead yesterday, is recovering at the North Bengal Medical College Hospital in Siliguri. “There was some miscommunication. Bandana identified herself in the hospital after regaining consciousness,” Sherpa said.

Sherpa said the victim, who was thought to be Bandana, has been identified as Meenakshi Prathihar, 38.

Additional superintendent Tripurari explained how the mistake that could affect several lives occurred. “There was no one to really identify anyone (yesterday) and we had got the names after going through belongings here and there. There was confusion about the identity of the dead but it has now been sorted out.”

Relatives and friends recognised Biswajit Mondal, Bratati Mondal and five-year-old Tanushree Maity as the other dead.

Bratati’s brother Pratap Pratim Giri, who came all the way from Kharagpur, could hardly speak. He only managed to mutter that he last spoke to her “before they left for Darjeeling”.

Three more employees of the Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway were arrested today for alleged “negligence” that resulted in four deaths and injuries to 10 others.

Seven persons, including S. Chowdhury, the ropeway manager, and a couple of employees of the forest development corporation, are now in custody. They have been booked under a section of the IPC that holds them responsible for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The offence is non-bailable.

Chowdhury has been sent to two days’ police remand. The others are in jail custody.

Man Bahadur Tamang, who was among those arrested, said: “We were the first to launch the rescue operation. We are behind bars now.”

Police sources said preliminary investigations have suggested that the “mishap was a result of negligence”. But they emphasised that the findings were preliminary. Two representatives of Conveyor and Ropeway Services, which runs the cable cars under an agreement with the forest development corporation, arrived here late in the evening. But they refused comment.

District magistrate Aariz Aftab said the government has instituted a four-member inquiry panel headed by Jalpaiguri divisional commissioner Balbir Ram. Apart from investigating the cause of the accident, the panel will suggest within 15 days measures to avert such accidents.

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