| The rescue operation in progress on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Feb. 27: Yet another student drowned today in the stretch of the Brahmaputra between Pandu and Soonsali that has claimed more than 40 lives in the last two years.
Suraj Paul, a Class XII student of Pandu College, drowned while taking bathing in the river near the Hanuman temple at Pandu around 1.30 this afternoon.
Sources in the Pandu river police outpost told The Telegraph that the student, a resident of BBC colony in Pandu, went to the Hanuman temple situated close to the riverbank with eight others and got into the water to bathe. “The youths who were with Suraj told us that they first visited the temple and later went to the riverbank. Suraj jumped into the water despite their objections. He went under soon after that. His friends could not save him as they didn’t know how to swim,” a source said.
His college uniform and shoes were found on the riverbank.
River police swung into action after being informed by locals around 2pm. Rescuers and divers of the State Disaster Response Force and National Disaster Response Force joined them and launched search operations in the deep water. The depth of the river in the area is around 25-30 feet.
“There are large stones and caves under the water. Besides, the underwater current is very strong. It is suspected that the body is either stuck inside an underwater cave or has been swept away by the currents,” a river police source said.
The spot where Suraj drowned is little over a kilometre from the Pandu river police outpost.
Family members and a large number of people converged on the riverbank to assist the rescuers, who continued searching till late this evening without success.
“We don’t understand why people continue to get into the Brahmaputra to bathe when so many people have died in the stretch in recent times. We have been alerting people through the media not to take a dip in the Brahmaputra as the underwater current is stronger than the surface currents,” a State Disaster Response Force member said.
The Kamrup (metro) district administration had put up signboards at some of the river ghats here in 2011 but no signboard had been put up near the Pandu ghat where at least three persons have drowned in the past year.