Days after seven devotees were electrocuted during Jagannath Rath Yatra in Kumarghat of Tripura’s Unakoti district, former chief minister Manik Sarkar Saturday demanded a judicial inquiry into the accident.
Apart from giving due compensation to the affected families and bearing the education expenses of the children, the CPIM politburo member also demanded that the government should put a process in place to ensure such accidents don’t happen again.
Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha had announced a magisterial inquiry into the Kumarghat accident and said proper action will be taken after the probe report is submitted.
Saha had also announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for the next of kin of all those who were killed in the accident and Rs. 2.5 lakh compensation to those who suffered above 60 per cent burn injuries.
While announcing the compensation for those who died in the incident, the CM also said his government would also provide Rs. 75,000 to those who sustained 40-60 per cent burn injuries in the accident.
This is in addition to Rs. 2 lakh compensation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for each of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
A three-member team of the CPIM comprising Sarkar, Tripura Left Front convener Narayan Kar, and former minister Tapan Chakraborty visited the affected areas in Kumarghat to assess the damage. They also met the families of those killed in the accident and those under treatment in hospitals.
Speaking to reporters in Agartala, Sarkar said, “It may be taken as our demand or advice. The chief minister announced a magisterial inquiry by the DM into the incident. Seven persons were killed and at least 13 are still hospitalised with burn injuries. This is a grave incident, something which has never happened in Tripura. We are not belittling the DM but we feel this merits a judicial inquiry with a sitting judge of the High Court in a time-bound manner”.
Sarkar, the former four-time CM, had set up magisterial inquiries into incidents including the death of a man in firing by an unidentified Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawan in Agartala city in July 2011 before handing it over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
On the Kumarghat accident, Sarkar said a fast-track inquiry should be done to identify the people responsible and bring them to justice. “We also demand a government job in the families of those who have lost their members. The government should also bear all expenses of education and study-related expenses of children from these families till the end of school,” he added.
Sarkar pointed out that processions such as the one taken out by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in Kumarghat are taken out during different events, including Ratha Yatra and other festivals, and said the government should put a proper process in place involving the police, Public Works Department, and power department to make sure such accidents don’t occur.
Without directly accusing the government of lapses on its part, Sarkar said such preventive processes should be kept in place whether it is a big city or small.
CPIM’s demands are similar to those earlier made by the Congress when its state president Ashish Saha visited Kumarghat and demanded a high-level inquiry into the accident and appropriate steps against those responsible.