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Searchers find traces

Bagmundi, July 30: Arundhati Ghosh, one of the five youths who got swept away in a mountain stream on Friday, remained untraced till tonight. As clueless were police about the circumstances in which two of the group were killed and Arundhati went missing.

The police, villagers and members of several mountaineering organisations searched the two banks of the Sobha river and nearby bushes, finding a number of personal belongings of Arundhati and her fellow Jadavpur University students who went on the trip to Ayodhya Hills in Purulia district, about 380 km from Calcutta.

“We found the three-quarter cotton pants Arundhati wore on Friday. We also found her rucksack and the blue tarpaulin sheet, a torch and an umbrella from the bushes on the riverbank,” said Kushal Biswas, officer-in-charge of Bagmundi police station, who led the search party.

About 40 villagers, policemen and members of mountaineering organisations in and around Calcutta combed the banks of the river under a sky overcast through the day with intermittent drizzles.

Around 10 am, Kaushik Dutta, brother-in-law of Arundhati, of Garbeta in West Midnapore, and another relative arrived to join the search party. An anxious Dutta was often seen directing the search parties to particular bushes. “Please look behind the bush on the left. See behind that clump of trees,” he was heard urging the villagers. “We also stepped into the knee-deep water of the Sobha and poked at the bushes,” said Sudarshan Mondal, one of the searchers.

As post-mortem was conducted on the bodies of Subhankar Saha and Swati Das, discovered yesterday two km from each other, after preliminary examination doctors have not found reasons to suspect any other cause of death besides accident.

“Although doctors have not detected foul play, we are probing all possible angles. We are waiting for the post-mortem reports,” said a police officer.

Officers from the Intelligence Branch interrogated the two survivors, Bappaditya Chatterjee and Kaushik Sarkhel, but described it as a “a routine matter”.

The deputy superintendent of police, Satyanarayan Banerjee, who interrogated Bappaditya, said the group had set out to have fun and adventure. “We are convinced that' trekking was not foremost on their mind,” Banerjee said.

Bappaditya was quoted as telling Banerjee: “We wanted to spend the night in a completely isolated place amid the jungle, hill and the stream. We planned to spend the night in a small cave on the bank of Daurikhal, the waterfall dropping from the peak of Mathaburu hill, and listen to the sweet sound of water.”

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