Day 09: Search Ops on to trace out Sopore teenager

Locals allege admin's failure; DC Bla visits family; 80 local boats, 1 SDRF, Navy teams; expert from Pulwama pressed into the service

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Sopore, Dec 20 : The attempts to trace out the body of a teenage girl who jumped in the River Jhelum at Jamia bridge in North Kashmir’s Sopore town continued on ninth straight day on Tuesday while as the deputy commissioner Baramulla Dr Sehrish Asghar visited the family of the teenage girl late this evening after facing multiple public taunts.

Local fishermen community, who have been tracing the girl from day one, told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that the search to fish out the body was on and that there was no success.

Navigating the whole operation they said that dozens of divers including a team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA), local fishermen, Navy and Sopore police were continuously putting their efforts to retrieve the body of the missing teenage girl.

“We had pressed at least 150 men, 80 boats into the service to retrieve the body of a 17-year-old girl from the day first, but the efforts failed and we have decided to call off the search operation”, said Farooq Ahmed, who heads the fishermen community.

He said, that not only of Sopore, but the fishermen from Bandipora and adjoining villages too joined us in the search operations. Farooq said that whatever they were using was of their own and nothing from the administration side.

Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner Baramulla, Dr Syed Sehrish Asgar during the late evening hours visited the family of the girl and expressed condolences to the family.

She, however, refused to talk to media persons at the spot.

Earlier, locals were expressing their anger against the administration – local as well as district for failing to felicitate the search operation team. “Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and local Municipality head didn’t visit the spot, it’s very shameful and unfortunate on their part”, locals earlier in the day said.

“We saw the SDRF team for just 2 or 3 days and Marcos of the Indian Navy for a day hardly. It was the local fishermen community only who were putting their hectic efforts to trace out the girl”, they added.

They, however, said that there should have a SDRF team situated in Sopore township also to act swiftly soon after such incidents occur in the vicinity. It is seen from the past that a number of such incidents were reported from the town at different spots, be it Jamia Bridge, Chankhan or Bypass one.

“The timely action of SDRF would save the lives of drowned ones”, they said.

Locals also have appealed to the administration to fence the bridges in order to stop the practice of jumping in the river Jehlum.

On day six, locals as well as the police sought the help from an expert of Pulwama – Abdul Salaam, a 64-year-old man from Kakapora area, some 70 km away from the Sopore, who claims to have saved 18 lives and have fished out at least 40 bodies from the various water bodies across the Kashmir Valley. But Salaam’s expertise too didn’t pave anything, citing the flow of Jhelum near the spot.

“It is better to call off the operation and people should make an absentia prayer”, Salaam said while coming out from the Jhelum after due searches.

Pertinently, Salaam’s name came into the limelight after people were commenting on the stories of search operation of a teenage girl on various social media platforms, after which the said expert was contacted and joined the search party at Sopore.

Meanwhile, Muzzafar Shah, a political leader associated with Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference (JKANC) while reacting to the Sopore search operation said that if we have the SDRF teams, why did they fail to fish out the body, is this why they are less equipped ? Shah questions the government.

He said that the government should have involved the army, paramilitary forces as they have enough equipment to deal with such incidents. “I wonder why the local administration failed to put them in service”, Shah said.

While lashing out at the district administration, Shah said that it has come to the media that the administration has not been there even if nine days have passed, he said.

Official versions:

An official from the WUCMA said that soon after they received a call, they without taking much time reached Sopore. “We used a special marine boat, a team of six men for 3 days. We also provided life saving jackets and a wooden boat to the volunteers involved in the rescue operation”, said Reyaz Ahmed, block in charge.

“Our team utilized their personal and financial services to retrieve the body, however yet to avail”, he said. Similarly, an official from the SDRF said, that they carried out the searches, however said that it’s difficult to retrieve the body citing many reasons as to why they failed to retrieve the body.

“The water near the bridge is a bit speedy which is making it difficult for us. Due to damage in the old bridge the planks, stones and residue are stuck in the river bed”, he said.

The meshes of concertina wire that was used during the militancy era is stuck at the river bed which makes it difficult for us to locate the body, the official added—(KNO)

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