Two cousin sisters drown to death as picnic trip turns into nightmare for Srinagar family

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It was my daughter’s birthday today; she insisted for picnic, I never knew  she would return dead, says shocked father;  A timely siren by Hydel-Power Project employees could have prevented tragedy; second incident since July this year at Drang, say locals;  Will investigate, meet two survivors also to get actual feedback: SDM Tangmarg

Baramulla, Jul 14  Two teenage cousin sisters drowned to death after a sudden flow of water to a power canal washed them away at Ferozpur Nallah, Drang tourist resort in Tangmarg area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla on Wednesday.

Two other family members were also stuck in the waters, but they survived and are being treated at the hospital. It was the birthday of one of the deceased girl today. Eye-witnesses told news agency that at least four members of a family including two girls were washed away by the water that was suddenly released by the employees of Micro Hydel Power Project Drang. “Two girls were taking photographs when a sudden discharge of water washed them away along with two other family members,” said Manzoor Ahmed, a local resident of Drang, who was present at the spot. “Two persons were rescued and they were alive but the two girls were fished out but they had died.”

Two families—both close relations—one from Nawabazar and another from Bemina area of Srinagar had left for Drang, a picturesque spot for a picnic trip but little did they know that they would be with the bodies of their daughters in the afternoon. The two deceased girls were identified as Utba, daughter of Muhammad Ashraf Khan, aged 17 and Insha daughter of Bilal Ahmed Khan, aged 19.

“It was my daughter Utbas’ birthday today. She insisted on a picnic trip and I couldn’t say no. We decided to go to Drang,” said Muhammad Ashraf Khan. “She was my only child. My daughter and her cousin sister Insha requested us to allow them to take a few photographs in a nearby canal. I told them go ahead but be careful. They were clicking pictures and all of a sudden huge discharge of water took them away. I tried to save them, I took was taken away by the water and I got stuck on a rock.”

With tears in his eyes, Ashraf said that he was pulled out by locals and taken to nearby medical facility where he gained consciousness after some time. “When I enquired about my daughter and her cousin sister, I was told they were fished out dead,” said Ashraf. He said locals had pulled out two cousin sisters out the water after hectic efforts.

Locals of Drang told KNO that today’s incident was second of its kind since July this year. “We had requested the authorities including SDM Tangmarg to close the canal given the fact area is a tourist spot, but our pleas went to deaf ears,” said Aijaz Ahmed, a local resident. He said a timely siren and the announcement could have prevented today’s tragic incident. “There is an announcement system but that is for employees only. The employees handling this power project are callous and least bothered about human lives.”

Sub District Magistrate Tangmarg Sameer Jan told KNO that he was aware of the incident at Drang. “It’s very unfortunate that two lives were lost. We have taken note of the incident and the allegations by parents of the two deceased girls. We are investigating the incident thoroughly,” he said. “There are two survivors of the incident. We will talk to them also and get their feedback as to what actually happened and who is at the fault. Action will be taken if any employee is found guilty.”

A police official at Tangmarg police station said that they have registered a case and investigations have been taken up. A pall of gloom descended on the entire locality at Nawbazar where two cousin sisters were kept together. “They are maternal cousins and it was decided by their relatives to mourn their death together at one place only—Nawabazar,” said relative of a deceased girl amid tears.

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