9 October 2009
Thekkady (Kerala): The Crime Branch of Kerala Police investigating the Thekkady boat tragedy Thursday arrested the Chief Boat Inspector M. Mathews and a forest guard for negligence that led to the boat capsize last week killing 45 tourists.
The double-decker boat, owned by the state-run Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), capsized in the lake in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Wednesday last week.
Mathew had inspected the boat after the tragedy and given a clean chit to the boat. He had said it might have capsized because the driver made a sharp turn.
Speaking to IANS, Inspector General of police R. Sreelekha, who is heading the probe, said the arrest was made after a discussion with her team members.
"Mathew has been arrested because he failed to conduct the stability test for the new boat that was pressed into service last month. It was a mandatory test which he should have held. As chief boat inspector, he should do all the prescribed tests as per law and he did not do that," said Sreelekha.
She said the forest guard was arrested because it was his responsibility to ensure that only those who have tickets be allowed to enter the boat.
"It has been found out that the boat was carrying more than the capacity, and the guard did this by putting more people on the boat. Both of them have been charged with culpable homicide," said Sreelekha.
With this, the number of arrests for the tragedy has gone up to four. The driver of the boat and his assistant were arrested last week and are in judicial custody.
The state government has already requested the Kerala High Court for the services of a high court judge to conduct a judicial probe.