As the day wore on and the special operation to locate bodies in Beas yielded no results, hope turned to despair.
B V Subarao, the father of one of the 24 students who were washed away in Beas when the Larji hydel project opened the dam flood gates without warning, said, “I could not sleep last night in the hope that we would return home today with my son’s body. This was our last hope. My own health is failing. For seven days we have not eaten or slept well.”
Relatives of the missing students were seen praying barefoot on the river bank when the search operation began early in the morning. The water level in the river was brought down to a minimal level after the flood gates at Larji dam were lowered on the orders of Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, Devesh Kumar.
For two hours, the parents watched naval, NDRF and ITBP divers make several attempts to find the bodies. Telangana Home Minister Naini Narsimha Reddy, three MPs and a team of top IAS and IPS officers were also present at the site.
Ravi Verma, a banker and father of missing student Shiv Prakash Verma, said, “Today’s operation proved a big disappointment. I wish the authorities had done the operation the day after the tragedy.”
The Deputy Commissioner said he had given parents two options — to flush out water from Pandoh dam and deploy manpower downstream to spot the bodies, or wait 10 days and see if the bodies float up to the surface.
“I will wait for the parents’ response on the options, but tomorrow the operation will be resumed with the deployment of radar equipment to located the bodies,” he added.