Seven tourists from Punjab drowned to death Monday when six of them jumped into the Gobind Sagar Lake in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district to save a person from their group who had stepped into the water body for a dip and lost his balance. Four of the seven victims were from a family and at least three were minors.
Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Department said they were part of a group of 11 pilgrims from Punjab’s Mohali, and the incident happened when they entered the lake near Garib Nath temple in Bangana sub-division to take bath. All seven bodies have been fished out and were being sent for post-mortem, said officials.
“We received information at 3.50 pm that some persons went missing while rescuing someone from the lake. One of the tourists had gone inside and others jumped into the lake to save him. As a result, all of them drowned.
Immediately rescue divers were informed and officials reached the spot. The bodies of the victims have been retrieved and the family members are being informed,” said an official from Bangar Police Station.
As per officials, the victims had traveled from Chandigarh on Monday to pay visit to a temple in Una. They also decided to visit Gobind Sagar Lake in the afternoon before returning the same evening. Some of them decided to venture into the lake. One of the victims went close to the lake shore and stepped inside, unaware of the water body’s depth and slipped.
The victim called for help as he began drowning, said eye-witnesses. Six of his fellow tourists jumped in one after another and attempted to make a chain by holding hands. They lost balance and slipped into the lake where they eventually drowned. The other four members of the group decided against jumping into the water and had even warned others against entering the lake.
The victims have been identified as Pawan Kumar (35), Raman Kumar (19), Lal Singh (18), Lakhvir Singh (16), Arun Kumar (14), Vishal Kumar (18) and Shiva (15). The deceased hail from Banur town in Mohali, said officials. The bodies will be handed over to the family after the post-mortem.
Sub-inspector Jagjit Singh, SHO Banur police station, said that four of the victims were from one family. “We are still awaiting more details from our Himachal counterparts,” he said.
Back home at Bazigar Basti in Mohali’s Banur, relatives and friends gathered at the residence of the victims. Krishan Kumar, whose 14-year-old nephew was among the victims, said he was Class 10 student and only son of his parents. “The other victims include Pawan Kumar and his three nephews. All 11 had left for a pilgrimage to Naina Devi. We have learnt that instead of going to Naina Devi, they went to another shrine and later went to Gobind Sagar Lake,” said Krishan Kumar, adding the families will reach Una on Tuesday to claim the bodies.
A press note issued by the Himachal public relations department said Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed grief over the incident.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal condoled the death of pilgrims. “Sad news of drowning of seven youths from Banur (in Mohali) in Punjab, who stopped for taking bath in the Gobind Sagar Lake while being on the way to Baba Balak Nath,” Mann tweeted.
Badal said, “It is very sad & tragic. My heart goes out to the bereaved families. May Gurusahab grant them enough strength to bear this terrible loss.”