Seven girls between the ages of 12 and 20 drowned in a pond in a village in the Latehar district of Jharkhand on Saturday during the ‘Karma Puja’ festivities, a senior official said.
IMAGE: Relatives of seven girls who drowned in a pond during the dive after Karma Puja, in Bukru village in Latehar district, on Saturday. Photography: PTI Photo
The tragedy occurred in the village of Bukru below Shregada within the confines of the Balumath police station when the girls had gone to the pond to dive after Karma Puja, a major festival in Jharkhand, Deputy Commissioner Abu Imran said.
The district’s Deputy Commissioner for Development, Shekhar Verma, was asked to conduct an investigation, Imran said.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren expressed shock at the incident.
‘Shocked to learn of the death of seven girls due to drowning during immersion in’ Karam dali ‘(branch of the Karam tree) in Sheregada of Latehar district.
“May God grant peace to the souls of the deceased and give the bereaved families strength to bear the loss,” Soren said in a tweet.
Palamu Range Commissioner Jatashankar Choudhary said the incident occurred during the ‘Karam dali’ dive and that the bodies of the girls, who drowned while trying to save each other, were sent to the Latehar District Hospital.
As soon as news of the tragedy spread, the festivities gave way to mourning, and the wailing of anguished family members could be heard in many houses outside of which sullen crowds gathered.
According to officials, a group of 10 girls from the village had gone to the pond with ‘Karam Dali’ to submerge when two of them began to drown and screamed for help.
In an effort to save each other, seven of them drowned in the deep pond while three other girls are in treatment.
Authorities said that after hearing their desperate cries, villagers rushed to rescue them.
“Four girls were killed instantly, while three others breathed their last on the way to Balumath CHC,” they said.
District officials also rushed to the scene.
Among the dead were three sisters: Rekha Kumar, 18, Reena Kumari, 16, and Lakshmi Kumari, 12, daughters of Aklu Ganjhu.
The others were identified as: Sushma Kumari, 12, daughter of Charan Ganjhu, Piknky Kumari, 18, daughter of Jagan Ganjhu, Sunita Kumari, 20, daughter of Fifa Ganjhu and Basanti Kumari, 12, daughter of Laldeo Ganjhu.
All seven were students from local schools and universities.
Latehar DC said that all aid will go to affected families. Latehar Member of Parliament Sunil Singh expressed deep shock at the incident.
Meanwhile, agitated villagers have blocked the Balumath-Chatra road – National Road No. 98, protesting the incident.
Authorities said the situation was under control and they were trying to persuade villagers to lift the blockade.
Karma is an important festival in Jharkhand related to the worship of Mother Nature and is celebrated with great enthusiasm, mainly by tribes.