Four T.N. students drown in Volga river in Russia

Four students from Tamil Nadu, who were pursuing medicine at the Volgograd State Medical University in Russia, allegedly drowned in Volga river. Their families have appealed to the Central and State Governments to bring their bodies back home.

Three of the students were aged 22 and were doing their MD while the fourth, Stephen Lebaku, was 20 years old. A resident of Perambur in Chennai, he was in the second year of undergraduate medical programme.

“Stephen had finished the second year and was going into the third year. The students usually go to the riverfront to refresh themselves. Usually, they do not go into the river but it looks like they were depressed and had gone into the river for a dip. There were 11 members and many of them returned. But one of them entered the water. On hearing his cries for help, others tried to help him. With in a few minutes all the four were drowned. The senior students told us that they immediately got in touch with the Russian emergency contacts. They came and checked around 3 a.m. on Sunday. We got the information around 10 a.m., which is like 7.30 a.m. for them,” said Anand Kumar, Stephen’s uncle.

Stephen’s father, Mohan Kumar Lebaku, is employed in a private firm. “We have been talking to the Indian embassy in Russia. We have also appealed to the Chief Minister. We tried to meet the Collector but as the office was closed today we were asked to come tomorrow. We understand that the college administration has to take steps to appoint a funeral agent which will collect the death certificates and make the flight arrangements,” Mr. Anand Kumar added.

Stephen is the first of two sons. His brother has just completed Class 12.

A pall of gloom descended on the house of R. Vignesh at Middle Street in Thittakudi as his mother Amutha was inconsolable. Vignesh’s father, Ramu, is working in Dubai, while his sister, Dhanalakshmi, is studying in a college in Coimbatore.

R. Sabarinathan, friend of Vignesh, said that he had come to Thittakudi three months ago and returned to Russia after his vacation.

“Vignesh along with three others studying medicine in the Volgograd State Medical University had visited Volga. He died when they attempted to save a person from drowning in the waters, according to reports”, he said.

Vignesh’s family will be meeting the Cuddalore Collector Chandra Sekhar Sakhamuri on Monday seeking the government’s help to bring back the body home, he said.

Another student has been identified as Mohammed Ashiq, 22, from Dharapuram in Tiruppur district. His father, Mohamed Rafi, appealed to the State government to take steps to bring his son's body back at the earliest. He told mediapersons at his residence in Chokkanathapalayam in Dharapuram on Sunday that pursuing medicine was his son's ambition.

Dharapuram Sub-Collector Pavankumar G. Giriyappanavar told The Hindu on Sunday that Ashiq's body is expected to reach his hometown in about two days. “So far, there has not been any concrete information [regarding the body's arrival],” he said.

The family of another student, Manoj Anand, petitioned Chief Minister Edapaddi K. Palaniswami in Salem on Sunday requesting him to take measures to bring the mortal remains back to the country.

Manoj Anand is the son of A. Anandhan, a Special Sub-Inspector at Veeranam Police Station, Salem.

Mr. Anandhan met the Chief Minister at his residence and requested him to take necessary measures to enquire what actually happened and help bring back the mortal remains of the student.

Expressing condolences to the bereaved families, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi leader M H Jwahirullah, in a tweet, appealed to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Mr Palaniswami to help bring back bodies of the four students.

(With inputs from Correspondents in Chennai, Cuddalore, Salem and Tiruppur)

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 6:46:20 AM |

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