Dhubri, May 7: Four persons were arrested in connection with the April 30 boat tragedy today, soon after the deadline for deposition into the mishap ended this afternoon.
Officer-in-charge of Dhubri police station Harin Deka said owner of the boat Alhaz Sayeed Ali (Bepari), driver Golap Uddin Sheikh, conductor Sohidur Rahman and majhi (boatman) Sah Alom Sheikh were arrested from various parts of Dhubri town this evening.
Earlier in the day, Dhubri additional deputy commissioner Monoranjan Gogoi, who is conducting the magisterial inquiry into the boat tragedy at Medattari ghat, said the probe was still on and anyone willing to get his/her statement recorded could come in tomorrow, too.
He said he would submit an interim report to deputy commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita as soon as the probe was completed. “It will take a little more time to compile the original recorded statements. The findings will be collated together in the final report,” he added. He declined from disclosing the findings, saying the inquiry was still under way.
Kalita said a seven-day deadline had been set for the inquiry but it might take a few more days.
“Public deposition has been completed but it might take a few more days to complete the report. We are making serious efforts to give facts and reasons behind the boat mishap,” he added.
An official source said around 90 persons, including eyewitnesses and passengers who had either jumped off the boat to safety or were rescued, had deposed before the magistrate over the past six days till 3pm today. However, Amjad Hussain, who was in charge of the boat that day, did not turn up, he added.
So far, 39 bodies have been recovered and information on 162 passengers who survived the tragedy has been gathered. These passengers include 33 injured. The figures are being cross-checked to arrive at a final conclusion on the actual number of passengers on the boat though 207 tickets were sold that day, the source added. The statements of several passengers have been recorded too.
Among the passengers who deposed before the magistrate was Anwar Hussain, a government official in a public health centre (in-charge of issuing birth and death certificates). Hussain, who comes from Medattari village in Dhubri district, told this correspondent that at least 150 passengers had jumped off the boat.
“There were over 400 passengers in the boat and I was on the roof. When the intensity of the storm increased, the boat was still 5km from Medattari ghat. The driver escalated the speed of the boat and it sailed forward amid heavy jerks and shaking, which lasted over 20 minutes,” he said.
Hussain said he could not say how many of those who had jumped near the ghat were alive but it was a terrifying experience as the boat broke up and sank with so many passengers on board. According to him, more than 40 persons were rescued.