When nine-year-old Preeti and her cousin, six-year-old Chanchal, could not be found after they went out cycling Thursday, a rumour that a child lifter had kidnapped them spread across Modinagar’s Devendrapuri colony. Panicking, the family and neighbours started looking for a possible suspect everywhere. The cousins, however, had died after their bicycle fell into a pit filled with water.
“When we couldn’t find them, people said a child kidnapper was on the prowl… For an hour, everyone searched accordingly. It was only when my daughter-in-law spotted Preeti’s slippers next to the muddy track that we realised they had fallen in. If we had looked earlier, maybe my granddaughters could have been saved,” said Kunti, their grandmother.
On Thursday afternoon, the sisters decided to cycle around the area. They ventured onto a narrow path in a field, marked by pits filled with rainwater. The cycle slipped and they fell into a 10-feet-deep pit. Their bodies were found hours later during a search operation.
“They never go out cycling; they would always play outside. But that day, they decided to take the cycle,” said Kunti, alleging that “these pits have been ignored for many years”.
The particular patch of land in Devendrapuri, which has more than 1,500 houses, comes under the Nagar Palika. Locals have alleged apathy on their part.
“There are several deep drain-like pits that have developed over time. There is also a drain whose embankments have been broken. Today, the hole was covered with sand but it took the death of two children for them to wake up,” alleged Rishabh, a resident.
The district magistrate is awaiting a report on the incident, being looked into by the SDM, Modinagar. “Action will be taken once the role of any erring official is ascertained. The area comes under the authority of the Nagar Palika,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, DM Ghaziabad.