Updated: August 4, 2021 10:27:01 pm
A 30-year-old research scholar, who had gone to Jivdhan hill fortress in Sahyadri mountain ranges for a trek with some friends, died of severe injuries after she fell off a steep rock face during their descent around Wednesday noon. Jivdhan hill fortress is located in Junnar taluka of Pune district.
Pune Rural Police have identified the deceased as Ruchika Seth, who was from Delhi and had recently completed her doctoral research at the Pune-based Inter University Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA).
A police officer from Junnar police station said, “As per preliminary information, Ruchika had finished her doctoral research at IUCAA a few months ago and had gone home to Delhi. On July 31, she and her brother came to Mumbai to meet one of her friends, Omkar Bait, who is pursuing his studies at another research institute in Pune. On August 3, Ruchika, Omkar and their two friends came to the Naneghat area in Junnar for a trip. They stayed at a homestay in the area. On Wednesday morning, they asked the owners of the homestay if they could visit Jivdhan fortress for a trek. As per our preliminary information, they were given a local person as a guide.”
“They climbed the Jivdhan hill fortress in the morning hours and started their descent around noon. We have been told that on a slippery patch on the downward slope, she lost her balance and fell off a cliff into a densely-wooded patch. Her friends and their local guide managed to find her and bring her up. She had sustained serious injuries to her head and limbs. Her friends called for a vehicle from the homestay owner. She was taken to a hospital in Junnar where she was pronounced dead. Her family members have been informed. We will speak to her friends in detail soon to establish the exact sequence of events leading to her death.”
Dr Somak Raychaudhury, director of IUCAA, said the news was heartbreaking. “I am shattered. She was my student. I was her supervisor. She had completed her PhD and was going to Estonia for a post-doctoral programme,” he said.
Dr Raychaudhury recalled an instance when Ruchika had travelled all the way to New Delhi on her bike, which was “adventurous on her part”. “She was a wonderful and friendly person… I had spoken to her just last week as some work had to be completed. I was not aware that she had come to Pune. If the lockdown had not happened, she would have left for Estonia a few months ago,” said the IUCAA director.