Picnic goes wrong States

Selfie tragedy: 8 men on picnic drown in Ven reservoir near Nagpur

Picnic gone wrong: The last selfie shot by the youngsters at Vena lake on Sunday. The boat tipped as all had gathered on one side for a selfie, resulting in the death of eight of the 11 people on board.   | Photo Credit: S Sudarshan

Nagpur: At 6.50 p.m. on Sunday, 25-year-old Pankaj Doifode, and his seven friends, were live on Facebook.

All eight men, aged between 21 and 28 years, were on a boat right in the middle of the Vena reservoir around 30 km from Nagpur enjoying their Sunday evening outing singing songs, and teasing friends who did not join them on Sunday evening.

Majjani life. Panike bich me” (Enjoying life right at the centre of the reservoir),” one of them could be seen shouting in the five-minute-long video.

But none of them was aware that this would turn out to be their last moments which being captured in the video.

The boat, which was carrying Pankaj Doifode, his seven other friends, and three local villagers who had provided them the boat, capsized minutes after the video was posted on Facebook.

“Of the total 11 people on the boat, eight drowned. Three of them managed to swim to safety. The accident seems to have happened when these young men came on one side of the boat to click selfies and videos which tilted the boat. They were so busy clicking photos and making videos on their mobile phones that they failed to see the water was entering their boat. Some of them were under the influence of alcohol. We have managed to recover seven bodies and search is on for one more. Two of the three survivors are still critical and have been admitted to a hospital in Nagpur,” Police Inspector Chandrashekhar Bahadure, who was supervising the search operations at the spot, told The Hindu.

Pankaj Doifode, an employee of HDFC bank, was also among the dead.

The survivors include one local villager and two persons who were part of this group of young men from Nagpur.

“I was shocked when I heard of this incident. I was watching their live video on Facebook yesterday evening. I got to know of this incident at around 11 p.m. and immediately rushed to the spot. They had invited me to this picnic and I was supposed to go with them but my wife stopped me at the last moment or else even I would not have been alive today,” said Pankaj Nirkar, a mutual friend of all eight young men.

Apart from Pankaj Doifode, the other deceased were identified as Rahul Jadhav, Ankit Bhalekar, Paresh Khotak, Pratik Amre, all residents of Hudkeshwar area of Nagpur city, and two villagers from Peth village — Akshay Khandare and Roshan Khandare. The body of Atul Bhoyar was still to be recovered.

Roshan Dodke and Amol Dodke, residents of Wadi area of Nagpur, and Atul Bawane from Peth village managed to swim to safety.

Atul Bhoyar, a computer teacher at a school in Nagpur, is survived by his wife and seven-month-old daughter.

Paresh Kakhote was to be married on November 21. The mother of Pankaj Doifode was unaware of his death until his body was recovered on Monday afternoon.

“Pankaj lost his father three years ago and was looking after his four sisters and mother. His mother will not be able to tolerate his death. We have a tough task to handle her. Pankaj was working in the loan department of the HDFC bank,” his cousin Anand Doifode said.

“I knew all these boys. Most of them were from adjacent localities of Uday Nagar, Janaki Nagar and Mhalgi Nagar. All of them were MBA graduates and working for well-known organisations,” he added.

Kushal Pawar, the sarpanch of Peth village, situated near the Vena reservoir, informed that the two boys from his village –Akshay and Roshan Khandare were good swimmers.

“But other men might have pulled them into the water in a desperate attempt to save themselves. This reservoir is prohibited for picnic or boating but everyday people from the city visit this area. There are no warning signs, no signs of this being a prohibited zone and no patrolling of police in this area. Every second month, we hear the news of someone’s death in this reservoir. The government should act fast to prevent any more tragedies on this reservoir,” the sarpanch said.

However, Nagpur’s guardian minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who visited the spot on Monday morning, blamed the young men for the accident.

“There will be an inquiry as to how they entered the reservoir without life jackets. The video shows that they were clicking selfies. This is an unfortunate incident but these young men caused this incident,” Mr. Bawankule told reporters.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 8:03:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/selfie-tragedy-8-men-on-picnic-drown-in-ven-reservoir-near-nagpur/article19253526.ece

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