The Kathua police have booked the chief engineer of the Ranjit Sagar Dam and the team managing the dam on the charges of criminal negligence on directions from district magistrate Shahid Iqbal, on Saturday.
The action was taken after 64-year-old Sayeed Mohammad, a resident of Jarai village in Kathua, around 90 km from Jammu, was washed away in the Ravi River, along with livestock, when dam authorities in Pathankot district allegedly released water downstream during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, without any information.
"I called up the chief engineer
10 times to stop the flow of water. Other authorities were also called up. Finally, the water was stopped at around 11.30am on Friday," the DM said.
As the Kathua administration launched a rescue operation for Mohammad with locals joining in, the dam authorities again released water at around 5pm on Friday resulting in a narrow escape for the rescue team, the DM claimed.
"I again called up the chief engineer and also communicated the situation to the Punjab irrigation secretary KS Pannu and the Pathankot deputy commissioner Sukhvinder Singh, asking that the release of water be stopped. It was then that we decided to file a case under Section 136 of the Ranbir Penal Code ---- willful negligence resulting in the death of a person. The dam authorities were not cooperative," the DM claimed.
Jammu-Pathankot highway blocked
On Saturday, over 100 residents of Jarai village, including relatives of Sayeed Mohammad, assembled at Kalibari in Kathua district on Saturday morning and blocked the Jammu-Pathankot national highway for half-an-hour, demanding the retrieval of the body. Long queues of vehicles resulted due to the protest. Kathua additional deputy commissioner Manmohan Singh rushed to the spot and the protesters dispersed only after an assurance from him that a search operation would be launched for the body.
No question of flooding Kathua: Punjab irrigation secy
With the Kathua DM alleging that the release of water by Punjab from the Ranjit Sagar Dam flooded Kathua, leading to the death of a 64-year-old man, Punjab irrigation secretary KS Pannu has clarified that no excess water was released from the dam which could have led to the floods. He also clarified that the Ranjit Sagar Dam chief engineer had nothing to with the release of water and the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited dealt with the matter. "Officials from the state did contact me and on their request the release of water was stopped," he said.
(With agency inputs)