The Punjab irrigation department is in the process of writing to the Jammu and Kashmir government, seeking the withdrawal of a case of criminal negligence registered last week against the chief engineer of the Ranjit Sagar Dam.
The neighbouring state had taken action after Sayeed Mohammad, 64, a resident of Jarai village in Kathua, around 90 km from Jammu, was washed away in the Ravi river, along with livestock, when the dam authorities allegedly released water downstream during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, reportedly without any warning.
On the directions of the Kathua deputy commissioner, dam chief engineer Anil Sood had been booked under Section 136 (wilful negligence resulting in the death of a person) of the Ranbir Penal Code. Release of water from the dam is being handled by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
“As per the report received from the irrigation secretary, our officers and engineers posted at the dam were not at fault. The man was washed away in the wee hours, when the flow of water was normal,” Punjab irrigation minister Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon told HT.
He said the registration of a case was a wrong step. “If neighbouring states function like this, things would go out of hand as FIRs and counter-FIRs would be registered every day. We would not let inter-state relations deteriorate,” Dhillon added.
J&K irrigation secretary Parvez Ahmed Malik said: “I have sought a report from the Kathua DC. He does not want to pursue the case. The report will make it clear what led to the man’s death.”
Malik reiterated that he was also not keen to pursue a criminal case against any officer or engineer of Punjab and wanted that a dialogue for exchange of information should continue.
Meanwhile, Dhillon has asked chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal to fix a meeting with top officials of Jammu and Kashmir so that the issue is resolved at the earliest.