A four-year-old girl died after falling into an open reservoir while returning from school in Swaroop Nagar area on Tuesday.
The incident took place around 2 pm when Nandani was returning home from Camp Convent Public School, about 300 metres away. She was with her mother Sanju Devi, who was carrying her three-year-old son in her lap. While crossing the area, Nandani slipped and fell into the open 15-feet reservoir made for rainwater harvesting by a gurdwara trust.
Between the girl’s house and her school lies a huge plot of farming land on which a school run by the trust is located. A gurdwara and ashram are also located on the premises.
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“We often take this stretch as a shortcut. My daughter and son were with me on Tuesday. On seeing the water tank, my daughter started insisting that she wanted to walk on its boundary. She slipped when she went close to it. I put my son aside and jumped into the water. But when I realised the water was very deep, I came out and started shouting for help,” Devi said.
“Two youths jumped into the water but barely a few seconds later, I saw my daughter’s body floating,” she said. “If I knew the reservoir was so deep, I would never have allowed her to go near it.”
“My daughter was so intelligent and energetic. I have lost her because of the open reservoir, which belongs to the school,” alleged the girl’s father Ranjeet Shah, an auto driver.
The trust said they had covered the reservoir several times with iron wires and cement slides, but these were repeatedly stolen. They also said the area was not meant for outsiders.
Ashok Kukreja, a senior member of the trust, which looks after Sujan Singh International School and a vridh ashram located in the area, told The Indian Express, “We made the reservoir for rainwater harvesting and also fenced it with cement slides and iron wires. But these got stolen repeatedly. We did it several times but to no avail.”
A local resident said that animals have, in the past, fallen into the reservoir and died. “We have complained about it to the school trust but they never bothered,” said Savita, who lives a few metres from the spot.
“The reservoir is not on the side of the road. But the people use the land as a passage to avoid the long route. The incident is unfortunate but now we will restrict outsiders’ entry on our premises. We will also make a boundary wall along our land,” said Kukreja.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (northwest) Milind Dumbere said a case under Sections 336 and 304A of the IPC has been registered at Swaroop Nagar police station against unknown persons.
On Wednesday, Nandani’s relatives and other locals protested outside the trust-run school, demanding compensation for the family. Sources said the trust authority assured them financial assistance.
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