Shimla/August 11 (NG News)
Himachal High Court on Monday sought reply from state government, HP State Electricity Board, VNR Vigyan Jyoti Institute of Engineering & Technology, Hyderabad and others on a letter received by Chief Justice into alleged tampering of evidence by the College authorities over Beas tragedy where 24 B.Tech students and a tour operator were washed away near Thalout in Mandi district on June 8.
A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto after taking cognizance of the news reports on the tragic incident.
In the letter written to the Chief Justice, 16 parents of the washed away students pointed fingers at the role of the College Management and the faculty member C Kiran accompanying students, alleged that he had indulged in several acts giving a go-by to the safety of students. No adequate precautions for safety of students in general and girl students, in particular, were taken.
The College did not even engage a local tour guide having knowledge of local geographic conditions, characteristics of rivers, local dams etc. The faculty member even skipped the confirmed tour to Dr Reddy’s laboratories in Baddi and changed the original tour program reducing the industrial tour to a merry-making trip. Now the College Management and C Kiran are influencing the students who have returned safely to give statements in support of the faculty and projecting the incident as an act of God and a result of irresponsible behaviour of the affected students.
In the status report filed by the SP Mandi, he submitted that 6 persons have been arrested and released on bail, statements of 29 witnesses have been recorded, 25 dead bodies have been recovered, of which 23 have been identified. Two dead bodied are unidentified, whose DNA samples have been preserved. 8 Jawans of NDRF including 2 divers, 2 boats and 10 HP Police Jawans are working in search operations, which will continue till identification of 2 dead bodies.
The Chief Secretary in his status report submitted that Private Secretary (MPP & Power) had a meeting with the technical Officers to review the implementation of instructions issued consequent to the enquiry conducted by the Divisional Commissioner, Mandi and to sort out the issues and shortcomings in the functioning of SLDC. The DC Mandi has reported that all vulnerable points have been fenced and sign boards have been installed at appropriate places. Three hooters have been installed at barrage site and one near tail race for information of general public. BBMB has been directed to ply a vehicle in routine with warning at the time of releasing water from dam. No case of illegal mining has been detected in Thalout area since June 12.
The Court also permitted one KRKV Prasad, father of a missing student K Sree Harsha to intervene in the matter, who had written to the Chief Justice urging for directions to the concerned authorities to continue search operations till his son’s whereabouts are known and his identity is established.
The Court also directed to transfer the amount deposited by the Electricity Board as well as College authorities as interim relief of Rs. 5 lacs per student in the accounts of the parents of the deceased students after proper verification. On the request of the Largi Project authorities to allow them revoke suspension of their officials, the Court clarified that it had not directed any authority to place any official under suspension and it is free to pass appropriate orders without commenting upon the merits of the case.
The court posted the matter for September 15.