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Rafting deaths at Pahalgam: Questions remain unanswered
6/25/2019 12:33:56 AM

Early Times Report
JAMMU, June 24: The Tourism Department's decision to ban rafting in river Lidder at Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and river Sindh at Sonamarg in central Kashmir district of Ganderbal has given place to many new questions.
The people of state in general and kin of two dead rafters in particular have raised some questions which need answers from the department to clear the doubts surfacing the three deaths in rafting at Pahalgam during two successive weeks.
The relatives of two rafters who died during rafting at Pahalgam on Wednesday last said if the department is accepting that it has no expertise in rafting then how it allowed people to go ahead with the exercise in gushing waters of river Lidder.
The people who lost their relatives in Wednesday's incident after a boat which reportedly was carrying eight people for rafting capsized in river Lidder resulting in the death of two persons-a girl from Reasi district of Jammu and an employee of Tourism department appointed under the PM package. They said was not it a criminal act on the part of department to allow rafting in the two furious rivers coming down from steep hills in absence of proper technical know how.
Moreover, had not department learnt any lesson in the death of Rouf Ahmed who also died in previous week while saving four people whose boat caspisized during rafting in Pahalgam.
Had the department taken the cognisance of shortcomings which led to death of Rouf Ahmed the two more youth could have been saved, said the relatives of Rinku Raj Pandita who died in Pahalgam while rafting on Wednesday.
They said how such a negligence on the part of Tourism department authorities was allowed deliberately. Do not the officers concerned are liable to questioning for playing with lives of people. Or for officers of the department the common masses have no value is a million dollar question.
The family members of Rinku Raju and Reasi girl are in shock and grief over the tragedy which happened at once.
Rinku's relative Ashok Kumar Bhat and is wife who was waiting for her husband to return in evening as per routine said that there was something fishy in it. They said Rinku was never going near river water to take a bath as he was afraid of water.
His wife said that he was already shocked over the death of Rouf and told her boat being used for rafting at Pahalgam is defective. It took life of a youth and department is hardly bothered.
She said that he had even raised voice against authorities holding them responsible for Rouf's death and next week he met the same date.
Contesting the claims of the department the family said if the rafting was started by Rinku and others after the days job was over but how did the department allow it? Does it mean any Tom, Dick an Harry will come start rafting under the very nose of department officials and they have no check on the same?
Moreover who were the other seven rafters in the boat? If it was not an official adventure then how these private persons managed to take boat for rafting is another question which needs an answer.
One more question being asked by family is that why they were not provided with safety jackets by the organizers which is mandatory to avert any incident?
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo who visited Rinku's residence was also informed by family about it's apprehensions saying that they smell a rat in the entire story crafted by Tourism Department.
Chrungoo took up the issue with DGP and other authorities and demanded a judicial probe into the matter to ascertain the facts.
PDP leaders and ex-MLA Kokernag, Abdul Rahim Rather and ex-MLA Batmalloo visited Rinku's house to express their condolences.
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