As an initial breakthrough in the case involving the controversial vessel MT Pratibha Cauvery, Shastri Nagar police on Tuesday arrested two persons of the city-based agency of Pratibha Shipping Company.
Documents including e-mails sent by the captain of the ship to the agency requesting basic supplies and fuel were also seized.
According to Shastri Nagar police, branch manager Jayaraman (55) and operational assistant Chitti Babu (46) of Sea World Shipping and Logistics Private Limited were arrested under Section 304 (ii) of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
Pratibha Cauvery had come to the Chennai Port on September 28 with crude oil from Kolkata. The oil was unloaded the next day but the vessel was docked at the Chennai Port limits till October 31, awaiting supplies including food and fuel from the agency, in order to undertake further voyage.
“Captain Carl Fernandes had repeatedly sent e-mails to the agency in Chennai to attend to the pathetic condition of the crew on the ship and their immediate requirements of food and water,” said Commissioner of Police S. George.
His desperate attempts to secure fuel and take the ship into the sea and away from the cyclone did not receive any response from the agency staff. He had also raised an alert on the faulty rescue boat on board, Mr. George added.
Around noon on October 31, strong winds during Cyclone Neelam resulted in the ship running aground off Chennai’s coast. Twenty-five crew members tried to escape the vessel in the rescue boat but six drowned.
Following a complaint filed by one of the survivors, Shastri Nagar police conducted a probe and arrested the two men on Tuesday.
Meanwhile on Monday, Ramamurugesan, administrative officer of the Chennai Port Trust lodged a complaint with the harbour police, against the authorities of the vessel on various grounds including cheating and failure to adhere to the Port rules, Port Trust sources said.