Dassam Falls in Ranchi
Local villagers refused to search for the body of a New Year reveller, feared drowned in the Dassam Falls on Wednesday, apparently unsure who would pay them for their effort.
Bundu policemen, who were at the falls on Thursday to supervise search operations, could not convince the Pansakam village youths who usually volunteer as divers whenever mishaps occur at the picnic spot.
Tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty ordered the closure of staircases that go down to the falls as a safety measure on Thursday.
Prodded by Jharkhand High Court, the tourism department has initiated a number of measures, including setting up amenities, to ensure tourist flow.
But unfortunately, safety has always been a concern, and efforts to prevent accidents have not paid off.
So far, the police haven’t been able to establish the identity of the person who drowned on Wednesday after he slipped and fell, ignoring announcements of securitymen not to venture into the vulnerable areas of the falls.
Most of the time local villagers are able to locate bodies and fish them out with the help of nets. In return, victims’ families usually pay them anything between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000 as a goodwill gesture.
“The villagers declined to search for the body even after our request. They said they are offering puja today (Thursday) and promised to help on Friday. Meanwhile, they wanted us to contact the relatives of the victim,” said Ram Sevak Rai, Bundu sub-divisional police officer.
Bundu police tried to explain to them that they had no idea about the identity of the victim.
“Since we have no information on the victim, where do we get relatives from? We told them that we were the guardians as no one had come looking for the victim. But, they said they would search the waters tomorrow,” Rai added.
Tourism secretary Chakraborty stressed on the importance of the viewing galleries, which sported guard rails, and asked visitors not to go down into the water.
“I have ordered Bundu officials to barricade the stairs that go down to the falls. The stairs will remain closed for visitors till further orders. In the next few days, I also will write to the home secretary and DGP to set up a police picket near Dassam,” he said.
On New Year’s eve, Chakraborty had declared Dassam Falls as “a danger zone” and said that those who would go there would be doing so at their own risk.
During the last 13 years, the falls has claimed no less than 20 lives, including that of BIT Mesra student Abhisek Mishra, a friend of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Ragini in 2006.