A teacher and a student of a Darjeeling school drowned while trying to save another student from the Relli Khola, a tributary of the Teesta, during a picnic in Kalimpong district on Saturday.
Sources said 50 Class VIII students of St Robert’s Higher Secondary School, along with five students from Class XII and five teachers, had gone to 27th Mile for their annual picnic. Around 12.40pm, teacher Nirmal Bhutia, 50, and Class VIII student Priyanjal Chhetri, 13, died while trying to save Umang Rai, another Class VIII student, from drowning in the Relli river.
“We had come for an annual outing; we have been coming here for the last three years. Locals had told us not to go near a particular part of the river as it had a whirlpool, but it seems they went to that area,” said Jogan Darnal, a teacher accompanying the picnickers.
The outing was planned ahead of the annual examinations to ease the tension of students. In the hills, the annual exams are completed by the first week of December, following which schools close for around three months for the winter vacation.
A student said that of the 50-odd students, around 30 were swimming in the
Relli. Utkarsh Kumar, a student, said one of the teachers suggested that they swim
to an area upstream where there was a naturally formed pool.
“After a while, Umang started drowning and Sir (Nirmal) went to his rescue. We formed a human chain by holding hands but it suddenly broke,” Utkarsh said. “It is then that two students fell on Sir.”
Nirmal was considered a “good swimmer” among the group.