A 17-year-old youth from Cuttack died while undergoing swimming practice in the Mahanadi river on Sunday.
The victim has been identified as Sohail Khan, a resident of Peer Bazar of Cuttack. His aim was to be an Agniveer.
“His aim was to join the Indian Army. In order to join the army, he used to practise running and swimming for nearly two hours in the morning under the guidance of a coach. He was studying in Plus Two. Now with his demise, all our hopes have been shattered,” Sohail’s father Mohammed Dawood Khan said.
Sohail was learning to swim along with others under the aegis of a local club for the last one-and-a-half years. All of them were being trained by Vikash Swain.
Nearly 20 of them reached the Jobra barrage of Mahanadi to practise swimming.
Sohail jumped into the river for practice but didn’t return. He went missing after slipping into deep water.
Sohail’s father said: “Before going for swimming, he went for rigorous physical exercise and running. Perhaps he was too tired. He used to leave the house at 5.30am and return at 8.30am. When he did not return in time, I called him. Someone picked up his phone and asked me to immediately rush to the spot.”
Though his friends tried to rescue Sohail, they were not successful.
The family alleged that the fire service teams also failed to do their job.
“They came without proper equipment to save a person from drowning. Had they come fully prepared, the life of Sohail would have been saved,” family members alleged.
“Some of the equipment they brought did not work on the spot,” alleged Sohail’s brother SK Isharduddin.
However, after hours of the search operation, the fire service personnel fished out the body and it was sent to SCB Hospital and Medical College, Cuttack, for postmortem. Meanwhile, Cuttack police have detained the trainer since he doesn’t have any valid certificate in swimming.
Vikash admitted he did not have any certificate in swimming and his institute was not registered. “We are imparting training to the youths from poor backgrounds in sports, swimming, and physical fitness without charging any money from them.
For their safety, we are giving them empty plastic jars tied and other inflated tubes so that with their help they can learn swimming,” Vikash said.