Two arrested in Battagram over alleged negligence in cable car incident

Published August 23, 2023
KP police arrest two people on charges of negligence causing the cable car incident in Battagram on Tuesday. — Photo provided by author.
KP police arrest two people on charges of negligence causing the cable car incident in Battagram on Tuesday. — Photo provided by author.

Police in the Allai tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Battagram on Wednesday arrested two people in connection to the cable car incident that left eight people stuck in the dangling vehicle for 14 hours before finally being rescued yesterday.

The incident sparked nationwide panic over the trapped individuals in the cable car. It received widespread TV coverage, showing the military leading the rescue with other authorities. Locals also joined the effort to assist in the passenger rescue.

The incident had occurred on Tuesday morning when six students and two locals were commuting on it.

They got stuck when two wires of the cable car snapped, Allai Assistant Commissioner (AC) Jawad Hussain had told Dawn.com, adding the cable car was privately run by locals for transportation across rivers as there were no roads or bridges in the area.

The cable car remained dangling in the middle of a deep ravine surrounded by towering mountains and a rocky surface along with the Jhangri river for hours.

After around 14 hours, the successful completion of the rescue operation was first confirmed in a statement issued by Rescue 1122 and later by the military’s media affairs wing.

In the latest development today, the Allai police apprehended both the cable car owner, Malik Gulzarin, and the operator, Ejaz. A first information report (FIR) has been lodged in connection with the incident.

According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the case was registered under sections 279 (rash driving or driving on a public way), 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery), 290 (punishment for public nuisance), 427 and 337H(2).

At approximately 7:50am on Tuesday, the police received a report about a cable car becoming stranded in the Bala area. Subsequently, police teams, including senior officers, arrived at the scene, the FIR reads.

The report indicated that the rescue operation involved volunteers from the Al-Khidmat Foundation, along with personnel from the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, and their commandos.

As per the details outlined in the FIR, the incident was attributed to the “negligence and carelessness” of both the cable car owner and operator.

Furthermore, the FIR noted that substandard rope had been employed for the cable car, with no alternatives available. “This reckless choice was deemed a perilous attempt that endangered the lives of passengers involved.”

The report also mentioned that the chairlift operators had been instructed beforehand to provide a fitness certificate for the cable to a nearby police station, but they neglected to do so.

“This negligence endangered the lives of eight people, causing them emotional distress and resulting in a loss for the government,” the FIR added.

Speaking to Dawn.com today, AC Hussain said a complete inspection of the site was in progress.

He added that charges would be formally brought before the court once all necessary legal procedures were completed.

Later, he told Dawn.com that he had formed an inspection committee comprising a sub-divisional officer from the Allai Communication and Works Department, a tehsil officer for infrastructure from the Allai tehsil municipal administration, the Allai tehsildar, the Allai Rescue 1122 in-charge and an assistant sub-inspector from the Allai police.

He claimed that this team was mandated by the chief secretary’s office to conduct visits and inspect the cable cars around the tehsil, adding that fitness and quality inspections on technical grounds would be carried out by the team.

Hussain said poor-quality cable cars would be sealed and not allowed to operate in the area till their degradation.

Meanwhile, Senator Talha Mahmood also visited the area to meet the rescued people and their families.

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