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Boat tragedy toll up to four

Ranchi, Dec. 16: The boating disaster on Ranchi Lake yesterday claimed yet another victim this morning, taking the number of casualties to four, while the BJP has called for the arrest of tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty, the lone VIP passenger on the motorboat that capsized.

In her mid-20s, Puja Banerjee succumbed at Orchid Hospital around 10am. Her husband Sagarmoy (28), a fellow passenger on the ill-fated motorboat, died yesterday afternoon, shortly after the vessel overloaded with 17 persons toppled, none of them wearing life jackets.

Sagarmoy and Puja were members of the extended Chatterjee clan, a well-known business family in Kokar and known to have Congress links. The Ranchi Lake or Bada Talab boating was initiated by Chatterjee International, a company owned by one of the brothers of the family, Gautam, together with Ranchi Municipal Corporation.

Two others who died yesterday were three-year-old Sana Mukherjee, also related to the Chatterjee family, and Abdul Manan (38), a salesman who had come for a joyride with his wife and five children.

Sana’s older brother Sayon (6) and mother Nabomita were released today from Nagarmal Modi Seva Sadan Hospital, near Ranchi Lake. Manan’s widow Saira Khatoon, feared critical yesterday, was also discharged from the hospital.

Her five children, as well as other passengers, including Chakraborty, were reported fine yesterday.

Ranchi subdivisional magistrate Ameet Kumar confirmed Puja’s death. Ranchi DC Vinay Kumar Choubey added her condition had been critical since yesterday.

“Kotwali police lodged a case last night. The boating arena is closed,” Choubey said.

Arvind Kumar Sinha, Kotwali OC, said a case of negligence was lodged against Chatterjee International.

No headway was made on the probe promised by chief minister Hemant Soren yesterday. But the BJP has targeted Chakraborty, apparently close to Gautam’s elder brother Chanchal Chatterjee, one of the biggest transporters of Ranchi and close to the Congress.

“We hold the secretary responsible as it has come to light that he behaved irresponsibly on board (the boat). We demand legal action against him at the earliest,” said Prem Verma, head of BJP tourism wing.

On directives or boating ban in the city, the DC said: “I learnt that the tourism department is about to issue directives. On my part, I have found that except this place, others have more or less some precautions in place.”

The fate of the RMC park at Ranchi Lake will now be decided on December 23 after a board meeting.

“All ward councillors are now demanding for review of the terms and conditions. A meeting has now been called on December 23 for ward members and RMC officials. Besides boating, the facility also has a marriage hall. We will revisit details of the complete project,” said deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya.