To involve the local tribal potters and peasants in the search operation, the parents of two French trekkers — who got lost in the hills of Triund near Macleodganj in Dharamsala — have announced a cash reward of Rs. 1 lakh to those giving information about them. Francois Xavier Camille and Valintin Marcel George, who took a route different from that of the other hikers, have been missing for over two weeks now.

A communiqué from the French embassy through the Ministry of External Affairs said: “…The Embassy would like to inform the Ministry that the families have decided to offer a reward of Rs. 1 lakh for finding either or both of the two French nationals [dead or alive], or for any information directly leading to discovering their whereabouts.”

The families have deposited the reward money with the embassy and have released the photographs of the two missing boys.

A number of helicopter sorties have been made over the mountains and numerous police and local trekking teams have explored the area. The locals, comprising mainly of Gaddi tribes familiar with the topography of the Dhauladhar ranges, are now expected to join the search. Officials have planned to send a fresh team of trekkers on Friday to the Moon Peak and Indrahar Pass where the two were believed to have gone.

The French boys had come to Dharamsala on a cultural exchange programme and were involved by a Bangalore-based NGO as volunteers for teaching in remote and rural schools.