Mother-daughter’s electrocution in Bengaluru: BESCOM suspends five officials for dereliction of duty

Energy Minister KJ George has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident and announced an ex gratia of ₹5 lakh to the victims' kin.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Nov 20, 2023 | 3:00 PMUpdatedNov 20, 2023 | 3:00 PM

Nine-month-old Suvikha and her mother Soundarya (23), victims of electrocution in Bengaluru

The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) has suspended five of its officials for alleged dereliction of duty that led to the electrocution of a mother and her nine-month-old daughter in Southeast Bengaluru’s Whitefield area early on Sunday, 19 November.

The officials were placed under suspension after a preliminary investigation that was launched soon after the tragic incident. The power distributor has also issued show-cause notices to two other senior officials.

On Sunday, around 5.30 am, Soundarya, 23, along with her husband Santhosh Kumar, 24, and their daughter Suviksha arrived in Bengaluru by bus after celebrating Deepavali in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore, the man’s hometown.

The young woman was carrying Suviksha along with a bag while Kumar followed them. Soundarya accidentally stepped on a live electric wire that was lying on the footpath at the Hope Farm Signal and was electrocuted instantly.

Kumar’s efforts to save his family went in vain as he, too, suffered an electric shock. The mother and daughter died on the road, barely 100 metres from BESCOM’s office in the area.

Related: Mother and infant electrocuted; BESCOM engineers detained

BESCOM’s explanation 

In an official statement, BESCOM  called the incident a non-departmental fatal electrical accident.

It said: “The F-9 of BPL feeder at Kadugodi tripped at 3.50 am and the same was charged at 3.55 am. Victims came in contact with 11KV snapped conductor as it had fallen on the footpath near Hope Farm Signal and got electrocuted around 5.30 am.”

Energy Minister K J George has taken a serious note on the accident and ordered the suspension of officials involved.

BESCOM then suspended five officials — Assistant Executive Engineer of E-4 Sub-Division, Subramanya T; Assistant Engineer of E-4 Sub-Division, Chetan S; Junior Engineer of E-4 Sub-Division Rajanna; Junior Powerman Manjunath Revanna; and Lineman Basavaraju — for dereliction of duties and a detailed investigation has been ordered into the incident.

BESCOM also issued show-cause notices to the Superintendent Engineer of East Circle Lokesh Babu and the Executive Engineer of Whitefield Division Sriramu. They have been asked to explain in three days.

Minister George announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh to the victims’ family on Sunday. He also urged all the engineers of power supply companies in the state to ensure the prevention of such incidents.

Also read: Four elephants found dead in Andhra; open transformer blamed

Officials released on bail

Dr Shivakumar Gunare, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Whitefield), said a case of criminal negligence causing accidental death has been registered against the five BESCOM officials.

The accused officials were arrested and later released on bail.

BESCOM officials told the police that they were not alerted about the snapped wire. However, locals claimed that it was lying on the footpath since 1.30 am.

Kumar, a furniture store employee, said he never imagined a city like Bengaluru, especially in an area where a large number of software companies are located, would face such negligence.

“My wife failed to notice the cable because there was mist early in the morning,” he told reporters.

Soundarya’s parents live in AKG Colony, which is about 1.5 km from the spot on the footpath where the two were electrocuted, the police said.

Residents and a few social activists staged a protest at the accident spot and also in front of the BESCOM power utility office later in the day. They demanded stringent action against the errant officials.