Three children drown in quarry pit

Boy's cries for help were dismissed as prank; residents blame mine owner

Three children drown in quarry pit

A drowning schoolboy pulled two of his girl schoolmates, who had rushed to his rescue, into a quarry pit at Shamareddy Bande near Kudlu Gate, off Parappana Agrahara here on Friday. All the three met a watery grave.

Lokesh, 14, was playing in water along with his schoolmates, Megha and Aishwarya, both 13 years old. Aishwarya’s elder sister, Sangavi, was washing clothes nearby. In a flash, Lokesh screamed for help, saying he was sinking. Sangavi thought he was playing a prank. “He was known for playing such pranks and hence I dismissed his cries for help. Then I saw Megha and Aishwarya lend their hands to him in order to rescue him. But he pulled them into the pit,” a disconsolate Sangavi told Deccan Herald.

The children, residents of Kudlu village and students of a local government school, had skipped the first day of the new academic year as their parents wanted them to stay back for completing the formalities required for obtaining Aadhaar card, police said.

Sangavi was assisting her neighbour, Parimala, in washing clothes when the tragedy struck. “The children had followed us. We were washing clothes and the children were busy playing in the water. Then, all of a sudden, I heard Lokesh’s cries,” Sangavi recalled. She then called a few residents for help. The bodies of Megha and Aishwarya were hung to the moss and pulled out. Lokesh’s body, however, was missing.

Soon, police were called in to retrieve the body. More than a dozen firemen and expert divers also arrived. The body could not be retrieved until the search operation was called off due to darkness. The search would resume on Saturday, police added.
The area around Shamareddy Bande was purchased by Srinivas, a realtor, from the BBMP 11 years ago. Unending mining, however, created an almost 100-foot pit which gets filled to more than half during rainfall. The pit will have 20 feet water during the non-rainy season, residents said.

Lokesh’s father, Nagaraj, is a labourer, and mother Sharada a domestic help. Megha’s parents, Ramesh and Padma, are also labourers. Aishwarya’s father Tamilarasan is employed at a garment shop and mother Bhuvaneshwari died a few years ago. Megha and Aishwarya were recently admitted to Class VIII and Lokesh Class VII, police said.
Residents have accused Srinivas of recklessness. Many of them visit the pit for washing clothes and cleaning utensils as there is scarcity of water at their homes.
“The pit has claimed more than 25 lives in recent years. We often pleaded with Srinivas to fill the pit up and ensure our safety. But he didn’t bother,” the residents alleged.

“A motorist fell into the pit but escaped miraculously a month ago whereas two schoolchildren drowned a year ago. Some murderers have even dumped the bodies of their victims. It’s common to find the bodies floating,” they added. Sakappa, president of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, said the school was reopened a day in advance. “The parents of the three children said they could not send them as certain formalities pertaining to Aadhaar enrolment were to be completed,” he said.

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