Vikash Sharma

 A plus 2 student, who wanted to join the Indian Army, died under mysterious circumstances while undergoing swimming practice in Mahanadi river in Cuttack on Sunday. The deceased has been identified as Sohail Khan of Pirbazar area under Jagatpur police limits.

Sohail was undertaking swimming and other training from a private institute identified as ‘Nimpur Athletic’. The institute reportedly imparts swimming training to several youths of the locality.

It is alleged that Sohail along with 20 other youths had come to Jobra barrage to undergo swimming training. However, Sohail went missing after slipping into deep water. A search operation was launched by the fellow youths but they failed to trace him.

“My son was studying in Plus 2 and he always wanted to join the Indian Army. My son used to leave home at around 5 am every day to undertake the training and return home by 8:30 am,” said deceased Sohail’s father, Mohammad Dawood Khan.

According to Mohammad, the family does not know what happened during the training today. “When my son did not return, I tried to reach him over phone. But got no response. Later, the official of the institute asked me to come to the spot. We suspect that my son was made to run for a long time and then made to swim for which he might have lost senses,” said Mohammad.

Sohail’s body was fished out by the Odisha Fire Services Personnel after an intense operation. The family members have also alleged that there was a delay on part of the rescue teams to launch the operation as some of their equipment didn’t work on the spot.

SK Isharduddin, brother of the deceased students said, “The rescue teams tested all equipment at the spot. But some of the equipment did not work. When we asked, they informed us that the machine is not working and they have made a requisition for another one.”

It can be mentioned that the private institute used plastic jars tied to tubes and other inflated tubes as safety measure while imparting swimming training to the youths. The alleged lapses on part of the institute have now come as a major concern and locals are demanding a detailed probe into the matter.

A trainer of the institute, Bikash Swain said, “Every Sunday we conduct swimming practice. As most of the youths hail from poor background, we have been providing training to them in sports, physical fitness and other aspects for free. For the last four to five years, we have been providing training. Our institute is not registered.”

Swain further said, “As we do not have proper equipment, we use plastic jars as a safety measure to impart swimming training.”

Meanwhile, the institute’s official has been detained by police and further investigation in connection with the incident is underway.

“The incident occurred at around 9 am. The body was fished out and sent for autopsy. We have detained one person who had taken the youth for training,” said a senior police official.

(Reported by Debasish Mohanty)