I had no Idea about the Diara Kite-Flying Event; Says Nitish

Nitish Kumar being welcomed by rural Development Minister Shravan Kumar in Rajgir on Monday.

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Patna: Before leaving for Rajgir where he would hold a meeting of district officials on Tuesday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday tried to wash his hands of the last Saturday boat tragedy saying he had no idea the tourism department had arranged a kite-flying event at the diara area on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

Pictures of Ganga boat tragedy victims.Pictures of Ganga boat tragedy victims.Kumar who, just days ago, took full credit for successfully organizing Prakash Utsav and Kalchakra festival in Bihar, feigned ignorance on the kite-flying event saying he was told that the tourism department even took out an ad in the local newspapers to promote the event.

"I have been told that this ad also included a picture of mine. This was done without my permission and I have asked the officials to explain who ordered the publication of this ad without my knowledge," he said adding a high-level team of top officers was probing the accident that left at least 24 people dead after a boat carrying fun-lovers from the diara area to the NIT Ghat in Patna capsized in the river.

Denying there was any need for any new regulations regarding plying of boats in the rivers of Bihar, the Chief Minister said that had the organizers, boat operators, and visitors followed the rules, the tragedy could have been averted.

"There are rules and laws that prevent boats from plying after sunset; running a ferry service without proper licensing and registration is forbidden, and overloading on boat is definitely not allowed. There is no doubt there had been a lapse in rules that led to this disaster," Kumar said at a press conference before leaving for Rajgir, his unofficial resort in his home district of Nalanda.

The Chief Minister further said that no such event will be organized in future without prior permission from a Chief Secretary level officer. He also directed the officials to put a stop on any future event that involved a large crowd in the diara area.

Kumar, who arrived in Rajgir later in the day, was given a warm welcome by a number of party leaders, including Rural Development Minister Shravan Kumar, and workers at the official guest house.

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