VIZAG: In response to the devastating fire that engulfed the Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour on Sunday night, the Andhra Pradesh government has taken swift action by assembling a specialized committee to delve into the incident that resulted in the destruction of 45 mechanized boats.
The committee, comprised of officials from the revenue, fire services, fisheries, and police departments, aims to uncover the circumstances leading to the inferno. Additionally, a task force, including personnel from the Crime, Task Force, and Central Crime Station (CCS) units, has been mobilized to interrogate the detained suspects and track down individuals who absconded following the event.
Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner A. Ravi Shankar stated, "We have initiated an investigation into the accidental fire, appointing the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Harbour) as the Inquiry Officer. Detentions have been made to ascertain the key orchestrator behind this incident and the motive."
Initial findings suggest a conflict between the boat owner, where the fire originated, and an individual running a YouTube channel within the fishermen’s community. Allegedly, the YouTube channel operator had received an advance payment from the boat owner for the purchase of another vessel. Tensions escalated on Sunday when the boat owner demanded a refund, which was refused by the YouTube channel operator. The altercation ensued during a gathering on the boat.
"A group of individuals present on the boat reportedly initiated the fire. This remains preliminary information as our investigation progresses," a police official disclosed.
Concurrently, concerns have emerged among local fishermen regarding inadequate security measures at the fishing harbour. Allegations surfaced that state police beat constables displayed leniency towards certain fishermen, neglecting their duties. Furthermore, neighboring CISF personnel, affiliated with the Visakhapatnam Port Authority (VPA), seemingly allocated lesser attention to the fishing harbour, prioritizing security within the port area, as highlighted by a group of fishermen.
Vasupalli Janakiram, President of the Andhra Pradesh Mechanised Boat Owners’ Welfare Association, voiced discontent, stating, "Our association has repeatedly raised security concerns with relevant authorities. We have urged for the establishment of a police outpost within the harbour, a matter we will emphasize once more."
The investigation continues as authorities delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident at the Vizag Fishing Harbour.