Baramulla: On her birthday little did teenaged Utba, and her parents knew that it would be her last birthday.
Utba – the lone child of her parents – had just turned 17, today.
Awfully she along with her cousin sister Insha,19 – both Srinagar residents – were washed away (only to be retrieved dead) from Ferozpor Nallah, at Drang tourist destination in Tangmarg area of Baramulla district on Wednesday.
Utba’s family lives in Nawabazar and Insha’s in Bemina area of Srinagar city. But the two girls lived together like friends at Insha’s place for years and as the destiny would had it, the cousins died together.
The families of young girls had gone to the picturesque health resort to celebrate Utba’s birthday.
Utba’s father, Mohammad Ashraf Khan had a narrow escape while rescuing cousins. Ashraf was recovered in an unconscious state from the stream and got to know about his lone daughter’s death, when he re-gained consciousness at the hospital.
The teenage cousins were taking pictures near the water body and a sudden flow of water reportedly released from power canal swept them away.
“It was Utbas’ birthday today. She insisted for a picnic trip and I couldn’t deny. We decided to go to Drang,” said visibly devastated Muhammad Ashraf Khan.
“She was my lone child. Utba and Insha requested us to allow them to take a few photographs in a nearby canal. I told them to go but be careful,” he added.
“They were clicking pictures and all of a sudden huge discharge of water swept them away. I tried to save them but I too was taken away by the water and got stuck on a rock.” according to Ashraf.
With teary 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 Utba and Insha, I was told they were fished out dead from the water body,” he said and broke down.
The bodies of cousin sisters were retrieved after hectic efforts by locals and police.
‘Sudden release of water killed girls’
Quoting eye-witnesses, KNO, local news agency said that the girls were washed away by the huge flow of water suddenly released by the employees of Micro Hydel Power Project Drang.
“The girls were taking photographs, when a sudden discharge of gushing water washed them away,” said Manzoor Ahmed, a Drang resident, who claimed to be present at the spot.
Drang residents said Wednesday’s incident was second of its’ kind this year.
“We had requested the authorities including SDM Tangmarg to fence the canal in view of visitors’ rush but they ignored,” said Aijaz Ahmed, a local resident.
“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,” he alleged.
SDM Tangmarg Sameer Jan said, “Death of two young girls is very unfortunate. We have taken note of the incident and the allegations by parents. Investigations are ongoing,”
“We will talk to two survivors also to ascertain what actually happened and who is at the fault. Action will be taken if any employee is found guilty.” he added as per KNO.
A police official at Tangmarg police station said that a case has been registered and investigations are ongoing.