Director General of National Cadet Corps (NCC) Lieutenant General P.S. Bhalla has said that accidents like the one that claimed the lives of five NCC cadets are avoidable if everyone obeyed and followed the instructions given to them.
Lt. Gen. Bhalla was addressing the participants of Kerala Trek, a national level trekking camp organised by 22 Kerala Battalion, Aluva, at St. Thomas Higher Secondary School, Malayattoor on Saturday.
The dead cadets belonging to the Delhi Directorate were part of the batch of 96 cadets from the camp who were on a trekking expedition to Mahoganythottam in Mulamkuzhi, near Malayattoor, on Wednesday. The camp will end on Sunday.
Maintaining zero tolerance towards such calamities, Lt. Gen. Bhalla said that he and other officials of the NCC had a unique bond with the cadets. “You are like my children. Imagine the state of a father who has lost five sons in one go,” an emotional Lt. Gen Bhalla said.
He said that camps were important as they helped to bring to the fore the innate qualities that the youngsters did not realise they possessed and helped boost their self-confidence.
Earlier, talking to presspersons, Lt. Gen Bhalla said the inquiry into the incident would be completed in a timeframe of 10-15 days. An officer of the rank of Brigadier would lead the inquiry team. The inquiry would find out how and why the tragedy happened in spite of taking all possible precautions, he said.
“I am here not as part of any fact-finding mission but to pep up the morale of the cadets attending the camp who are obviously under a pall of gloom following the death of their close friends or college mates. It is also aimed at sending across a message about our commitment to take the organisation forward,” he said.
Stating that the NCC was saddened and shaken up by the tragedy, Lt. Gen Bhalla said that the void left by the deceased cadets in the bereaved families and NCC would not be easy to fill.
The Director General was given a guard of honour on his arrival at the camp.
He was then closeted with the officials and the inquiry team before interacting with the students.
He also visited the accident site before having lunch with the cadets. He offered prayers for the deceased cadets at the Malayattoor church and the Sree Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram, Kalady, before leaving for the city. Indicating the seriousness attached to the incident by the NCC, the court of inquiry ordered by the Director General was expanded on Saturday by attaching Brigadier Subhash Dixit, Group Commander, NCC, Kolhapur. He will now head the inquiry team.
Earlier the team was led by Colonel Biju Thomas, Group Commander, NCC, Bangalore Directorate; and assisted by Lieutenant Colonel S. Ramesh, and Lieutenant Colonel R. Nagaraj. The team had been in Malayattoor since Thursday and completed initial rounds of inquiry.