Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) registered a case on Friday into the tragic death of a man while taking part in a mock drill held in a river in Pathanamthitta and sought a report from the State Disaster Management Authority and the District Collector on the incident.
Binu Soman (34), who acted as a volunteer in the drill organised to assess the disaster management agencies’ preparedness to deal with floods, was seen drowning at Manimala river near Keezhvaipur on Thursday. Though the man was rescued and admitted to a private medical college hospital in Thiruvalla by the officials, who took part in the mock drill, he later died in the day.
The Commission registered the case based on a complaint lodged by a human rights activist. The complainant alleged that if the rescue personnel had arrived on time, the life of the deceased man could have been saved. The mock drill, without taking any precaution, was a gross violation of human rights and action should be taken against the officials who were responsible for the tragic death of the man, he further said in the complaint.
V K Beena Kumari, member, KSHRC, directed the head of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) and the Pathanamthitta District Collector to submit an explanation report within the next 15 days after examining the circumstances that had led to the tragedy, an official statement said. The Commission would take further action after receiving the report, it added.
Mock drills were held at various places in Pathanamthitta district on Thursday as part of assessing the disaster management team’s preparedness to deal with floods and landslides. Locals have rapped the National Disaster Response Force, which organised the event, for their alleged negligence which led to the untimely demise of Soman. Several people alleged that the Force had come to simulate the rescue operation with faulty equipment. Fire Force and Revenue Departments also faced the wrath.
Binu Soman is a native of Paduthodu near Mallappally. He was among the four volunteers who participated at the request of the Tahasildar. The very purpose of the event was reportedly saving people from drowning. Locals also allege that officials had tried to stifle the news of the death from spreading. Meanwhile, State Revenue Minister K Rajan ruled out foul play in Soman’s death. Police has registered a case of unnatural death. Soman’s postmortem was done at Kottayam Medical College. His funeral will take place after his sister, who is abroad, returns home.