Boat capsizes in Srinagar; 6 including 4 school children dead, 3 missing

A rescue team engaged in search operation for the missing people after a boat capsized in overflowing river Jhelum near Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
A rescue team engaged in search operation for the missing people after a boat capsized in overflowing river Jhelum near Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

LG, political leaders express grief

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, Apr 16: In a tragic mishap, a boat ferrying over a dozen persons including school children capsized in Srinagar this morning, killing six persons including 4 children while a major search operation is on in river Jhelum to search for three missing persons.
The boat was ferrying 19 people including 7 school children, all from Gandbal village, in Srinagar, who were crossing the river towards Batwara.
Seven persons were immediately rescued by the locals while a massive rescue operation was launched by State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF), National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF), police and Army in the river.
They pulled out nine people from the river and were shifted to hospital where six of them were declared dead and three others are undergoing treatment.
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The dead have been identified as Shabir Ahmad Bhat, Razia Jan, Gulzar Ahmad, Firdousa Begum, Tahir Fayaz and Mudasir Fayaz. They include four school children, one of the parents and the boatman.

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Tahir Fayaz and Mudasir Fayaz were twins studying in 4th standard in Kendriya Vidyalaya Srinagar at Batwara and their mother Firdousa Begum was accompanying them to school.
The missing include two school children and a parent. They have been identified as Showkat Ahmad Sheikh and his minor son Haziq Shoukat and another minor Farhan Waseem Parray.
Those rescued include Masrat Begum, Irshada Bilal, Ghulam Nabi Khan, Mehraj ud Din Dar, Noor Mohammad, Aisha Jan, Insha Bilal, Humaira Shabir, Mohammad Rafiq Bhat and Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh.
A pall of gloom descended the entire area as soon as news about the tragedy spread. Women were seen wailing on the banks of river Jhelum as the rescuers were searching for the three missing persons. Thousands of people offered last rites to the deceased in the village.
Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh, a labourer, who is one of the survivors of the boat tragedy said that he caught hold of the rope and was lucky to reach the shore.
“I was on board along with several school children and their parents. As we were crossing the river with the help of the rope, the rope suddenly got cut with the result the boat lost its control and hit the pillar of construction of the under-construction bridge and broke into two or more pieces. I along with three others managed to escape unhurt”, he told Excelsior.
Ahmad said that he along with school children and their parents used to cross the river daily. “The river was swollen today due to heavy overnight rains,” he added.
The incessant rains for the last two days in Kashmir led to increase in the water level of river Jhelum. This led to flood like situation in parts of Kashmir with district administration in Kupwara closing down the schools upto 8th standard in the district as a precautionary measure.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr. Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat said the rescue operation will continue through the night hours.
“After consultation with different agencies as part of the rescue operation, they have unanimously decided to keep up with their efforts to see if any other recovery is made,” he said.
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, IGP, Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar and SSP Srinagar are at Gandbal, Batwara and are monitoring the rescue operations. The elite marine commandos of the Indian Navy, Marcos, were also brought in to search for the three missing.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has expressed deep grief over the incident.
“I am deeply grieved by the loss of lives due to a boat accident in Srinagar. My thoughts are with the bereaved families & I pray to the Almighty to give them strength to withstand this immense loss. The SDRF, Army & other agencies are carrying out relief & rescue work,” he said in a message posted on X.
Several politicians including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Sajjad Gani Lone and Altaf Bukhari have expressed grief over the tragedy.