Police summon official for remarks over Russian teen’s death

May 13th, 2009 - 5:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 13 (IANS) Embarrassed after railway authorities punctured the police theory that 19-year-old Russian tourist Elena Sukhonova died after falling from a train, the police have now summoned their media spokesperson to the police station.
The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) spokesperson Baban Ghatge had told the media Monday that given the place where the accident had occurred, it was impossible for a person to accidentally fall off a compartment and get dragged under the wheels.

Ghatge had also maintained that railway records did not show that Elena had boarded the train at the Thivim railway station, as the police maintained.

Ghatge’s statement went radically against the police theory, leaked to the media earlier, that the Russian teenager was in a drunken state and could have fallen off the train.

Speaking to IANS, Deputy Superintendent of Police Sammy Tavares said that Ghatge had been summoned to the Mapusa police station so that his statement could be formally recorded.

“We want to formally record his statement. He had told the media that a person travelling on-board a train cannot fall under it,” Tavares said.

When contacted, Ghatge, who is reportedly under immense pressure by the police to retract his statement, told IANS that he stood by his comments: “I stand by what I said. Considering the spot where the accident occurred, it is not possible for the girl to fall off the train and come under the tracks. Instead, she would have been flung away from the tracks,” Ghatge said.

“I am a civil engineer. I know what I am saying,” the spokesperson said.

Speaking to reporters, Ghatge said that there were special circumstances, when a person could land up on the tracks, after falling from the train.

“Yes, a passenger can land on the tracks if there is a fall inside a tunnel or while falling the person is hit by a train running parallel. But, in the instant case, the deceased was found lying on the tracks where there was no tunnel and there’s no second line running parallel to the existing line at Thivim,” he said.

Ghatge’s stance is also complimented by the Russian consulate authorities who have disbelieved the police theory that Elena’s death was accidental. In a letter to the chief minister, Russian consul general Alexander Mantytsky asked Chief Minister Diganmbar Kamat to take “personal control” of the police investigation, reiterating that the “accident” theory put forth by the police wasn’t “conclusive”.

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