Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday expressed grief over the Panama boat tragedy in which 20 Punjabi youths who were heading to the US illegally are feared drowned.
Conveying his condolences to the bereaved families, Badal said the state government was at their beck and call. “I am deeply anguished to learn about the deaths of these sons of the soil,” he added. The CM said he was in constant touch with the Union Ministry of External Affairs. The director general of police (DGP) has also started an inquiry.
Meanwhile, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to send a team to the South American country to expose the human-trafficking racket responsible for the boat tragedy.
On Monday, when he spoke to Swaraj over telephone, she assured him that the Union government would reach out to the victims. He told her that the Punjab government was sending its senior officials to the US to trace the survivor. Sukhbir told her that he had reports that 25 youths from Punjab were feared dead in this incident.
“The boat capsized on January 10 and the parents of the youths on board got to know on January 12 and 13,” the deputy CM told the foreign minister. Kapurthala Police have already registered a case against two travel agents.
Call for updates
A 24-hour control room has been formed at Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh to keep the families of the victims updated. Any relative of the victims can call at 0172-2740397 and 2740859, or send a fax to 2740936 for information.