8 drown in Jharkhand during 'Karma Puja' immersion, CM expresses shock
Latehar, Sep 18: Eight people, including seven girls, drowned at two places in Jharkhand's Latehar district on Saturday during 'Karma Puja' festivities, a senior official said.
The incidents took place at Bukru village under Shregada and another village under Shibla Panchayat in the district when they had gone to a pond for immersion after Karma Puja, a major festival in Jharkhand, Deputy Commissioner Abu Imran said.
The Deputy Development Commissioner of the district, Shekhar Verma has been asked to hold an inquiry into the drowning of the seven girls aged between 12 and 20 years at Bukru, Imran said. President Ram Nath Kovind expressed deep pain over the incident.
"I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of many girls in a painful accident during 'Karam Dali' immersion in Latehar, Jharkhand. In this hour of grief, I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved family members," he tweeted.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said: "Shocked to hear about the death of seven girls due to drowning during 'Karam Dali' (branch of Karam tree) immersion at Sheregada of Latehar district. May God grant peace to the departed souls and give strength to the bereaved families to bear the loss."
Commissioner, Palamu Range, Jatashankar Choudhary said the bodies of the girls, who drowned while trying to save each other, were sent to the Latehar district hospital. As soon as the news about the tragedy spread, the festivities gave way to mourning, and wails of distraught family members could be heard at many homes outside which sullen crowds collected.
According to officials, a group of 10 girls from the village had gone to the pond with 'Karam Dali' for immersion when two of them started drowning and shouted for help. In an effort to save each other, seven of them drowned in the deep pond while three other girls are undergoing treatment. Officials said after hearing their desperate cries, villagers rushed to their rescue.
"Four girls died on the spot while three others breathed their last on way to Balumath CHC," they said. District officials also rushed to the scene. Those dead included 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, Pinky Kumari (18) daughter of Jagan Ganjhu, Sunita Kumari (20) daugher of Fifa Ganjhu, Basanti Kumari (12) daughter of Laldeo Ganjhu and Suraj (10) son of Yashwant Vishwakarma.
Meanwhile, agitated villagers in Bukru blocked the Balumath-Chatra Road-National Highway 98, alleging that the incident occured due to widening of the pond for excavation. The blockade could only be lifted late in the evening after a senior official assured them of a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each for the families of the seven girls. Karma is a major festival in Jharkhand related to worship of mother nature and is celebrated with great enthusiasm, mostly by tribals.