The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trekking tragedy touches Dinhata

Dinhata, July 30: The family and neighbour of Subhankar Saha are trying hard to cope with the news of the 22-year-old's death on a trekking trip in Purulia, hundreds of kilometres away.

Subhankar was one of the five students of Jadavpur University who were washed away by a flash flood while trying to cross the Sobha, a mountain steam at the foot of the Ayodhya hills. Two of them, Kaushik Sarkhel, 24, and Bappaditya Chatterjee, 22, were rescued, while the bodies of Subhankar and Swati Das, 23, were found later. Twenty-two-year-old Arundhati Ghosh is still missing.

Amid the pain and sadness, Subhankar's uncle Alok Saha has left for Purulia by road to bring back the body and is expected to return tomorrow around 11 am.

The Saha household at Sahapally here was in complete disarray today. Subhankar's mother Madhuri was losing consciousness repeatedly, prompting neighbours to call for a doctor. Subhankar's sister Moushumi, a third-year student of Dinhata College, lay sobbing in one of the rooms, clutching on to her elder brother's favourite musical instruments.

'I have never done anyone any harm. Why did this happen to me,' cried Subhankar's father Shankar, who is a head clerk at the Dinhata court.

Torn between their sense of loss and responsibility towards the bereaved family, residents of the area were seen walking in an out of the house, trying to coax Madhuri, Moushumi and Shankar to have something to eat.

'Subhankar was more than a friend, he was an inspiration to all of us,' said Joy Saha, as he fondly remembered his childhood companion.

Joy's thoughts are shared by many people here, who will always remember Subhankar as a bright and well-behaved boy. Having done well in both Madhyamik and higher secondary examinations, Subhankar had gone on to do his BPharma and MPharma at Jadavpur University. It was here that he was initiated into trekking.

Shankar's brother Debabrata Saha, however, claimed that Subhankar had not told his parents about his plans to go trekking in Purulia. 'He said he was going to Digha with four friends,' Debabrata said. 'If he had mentioned anything about trekking, then we would not have let him go.'

Armed with a letter from Dinhata subdivisional officer Kajol Bandopadhyay, Alok reached Purulia today and received Subhankar's body in the afternoon from Deben Mahato Sadar Hospital, where the post-mortem was conducted.

On his way back, Alok said over phone: 'We hope to reach Dinhata tomorrow morning by 11. The civil administration in Purulia, the police and the hospital authorities have all helped us in whatever way they could.'

Subhankar's last rites will be conducted here tomorrow.

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