Four persons, including two women, drowned in the Yamuna Thursday night while immersing idols for Ganesh Chaturthi in Outer Delhi’s Alipur. Police said they were stopped by officers, deployed along the banks to prevent the immersion of idols in the Yamuna, but managed to slip past them.
A search operation was conducted by the Delhi Fire Services, Disaster Management personnel, civil defence staff and Delhi Police. The bodies were recovered on Friday. The victims are Pinky Shah (21), Priyanka (20), Nikit (21) and Umesh Yadav (20).
DCP (Outer North) Gaurav Sharma said, “On Thursday evening, a group of 30 people heading towards the river were stopped by police officers and civil defence personnel three times at different places. Officers were deployed near Shani Mandir and Bhakatwarpur to check if anyone was going towards the river for Ganesh visarjan. The group insisted on taking the route and said they won’t immerse the idol or go near the river. When the officer refused, an altercation broke out. After sunset, they took a different route which goes through the jungle, and reached the river. We received a call around 9 pm that four of them had drowned.”
Police said that after immersing the idol, around eight people went to the river to bathe. One of them fell into a pit inside the river. Others tried to rescue her but drowned, said police, adding that the others managed to get out.
“We rushed to the spot with a fire tender. There wasn’t much light so we tied ropes and formed a chain to go inside the river. We discovered that the four fell into the eight-foot-deep pit and were swept away by the current,” said DFS chief Atul Garg. Police said the bodies of Yadav and Nikit were recovered around 9.30 am, and the women were found in the afternoon.
Pinky’s mother Shakuntala Shah said, “It’s her 22nd birthday on Saturday… Before she went out with her friends, I told her not to attend any idol immersions. She told me her friends were planning to go for a ride on their bikes and that they wouldn’t go near the river. Later that night, we received a call about the incident. She was a bright student and was preparing to become a CA.” Pinky lived with her parents in Nihal Vihar. Her father, Sanjay, is a mason.
Nikit’s uncle Dharmender Sharma said: “He told us he would go to a friend’s place for the puja and later for the idol immersion… He was pursuing his BA and helped his father with his carpentry work.” Nikit lived with his parents and uncle in Nihal Vihar.
This year, in accordance with NGT and DPCC guidelines, police said they have deployed several teams near the river banks to stop people from immersing idols, while directing them to artificial ponds set up at 130 sites.