<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of 22 people died when a boat carrying them capsized in the Yamuna near Katha village in Baghpat district, western Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday morning. Soon after the incident, angry villagers indulged in arson and heavy stone-pelting, injuring several policemen and some media persons.District Magistrate Bhawani Singh confirmed the deaths of 22 people. He added that some 20 people who were rescued and referred to Delhi and Meerut were in critical condition.”The boat was small and had the capacity to carry a dozen people, but it was overloaded with 55-60 passengers, a good number of them carrying bags of fertilizer. When it reached midway, it capsized,” Singh said.Boat is the only means for villagers here to reach their fields. Many daily labourers also accompany farmers to earn their livelihood.Villagers claimed that the boat owner had been warned several times in the past about overloading, but he would still take more passengers to make more money. “In complete disregard for the safety of passengers, he would also allow people to carry their heavy luggage and farm equipment. Today, many farmers loaded bags of fertilizer onto the overloaded boat. It could not bear the weight and went down. We saw people shouting for help, but no one dared to jump into the river, which has many huge pits due to illegal mining in the riverbed,” said Raghuram, an eye-witness.Villagers also claimed that the rescue operation started two hours after the boat sank at 7.45 am although they had informed district authorities almost immediately.”Many lives could have been saved if the rescue operation started early,” said Surendra Kumar.Angry villagers held massive demonstration with the bodies of those who died in the tragedy, bringing traffic to a halt. They pelted stones and set several trucks and an ambulance on fire. Some of them also turned their ire on media persons who were covering the arson, damaging their video cameras. Three policemen, one camera person and an ambulance driver sufffered injuries in stone-pelting.Singh said, “rescue operations will continue till we are sure that all the bodies have been recovered. We will make another attempt on Friday morning.”Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was busy with President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Lucknow, expressed condolences and announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to the families of those who died.

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22 drown as overloaded boat capsizes in Yamuna