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Gujarat boat tragedy: Youth Cong leader throws ink on face of lake maintenance firm partner; held

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Vadodara, Jan 24 PTI) A local Youth Congress leader on Wednesday threw ink on the face of an accused arrested in connection with the Vadodara boat capsize incident outside the premises of a court, police said.

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Vadodara city Youth Congress president Kulpeep Vaghela blackened the face of the accused, Bineet Kotia, with ink when the latter was being escorted out of the court building after he was remanded in police custody, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhay Soni.

"Vaghela was detained after the incident and was taken to the city's Akota police station where a process was underway to register an FIR against him on charges of obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his duty," Soni said.

The court remanded Bineet Kotia, one of the partners in the lakefront maintenance firm, in police custody till January 31, a public prosecutor said.

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As many as 12 students and two teachers of New Sunrise School on a picnic drowned, while 18 students and two teachers were rescued after an overloaded boat capsized in the Motnath Lake on the outskirts of Vadodara on January 18.

Police have so far arrested seven persons in the case, including three partners of Kotia Projects, the firm responsible for maintaining the Motnath Lakefront in the Harni area on the outskirts of Vadodara, and nabbed one more person from Odisha. Eleven others named in the FIR are on the run.

In its complaint, the Vadodara civic body pointed out lapses, including non-maintenance of boats by Kotia Projects which was responsible for maintaining the lakefront, and not keeping the adequate number of life-saving equipment and life jackets, on the part of the contractor.

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It was also revealed that only a few students were given life jackets on the day of the incident.

According to officials, Kotia Projects had sub-let the contract for boating activities to another company, and that the boat operator had no prior experience.

Police had registered an FIR under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Gujarat High Court had directed the state government to submit an action taken report (ATR) on the death of students and teachers in the boat tragedy, observing that it has "shocked the conscience" of the public. PTI COR KA PD NSK

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