Pune: A visit to the famous turtle festival in Ratnagiri turned to be the last trip for a 20-year-old engineering student from the Pune Institute of Computer Technology (PICT) on Saturday.
The second year student of electronics and telecommunication engineering Tejas Devravji Durge, along with a group of dozen friends and his elder brother Shreyas (23), had gone to the Velas beach, some 300 km from Pune, to see the turtles when tragedy struck them. They reached the beach around 6.30 in the morning and entered the waters. Unable to judge the depth and currents of the water, four students got stuck in it and started drowning. While three of them were rescued by the locals, Tejas could not be saved.
The deceased hails from Nagpur and was currently residing in Kothrud along with his siblings and mother. A case of accidental death has been registered with the Mandangad police station.
G M Sayeed, head constable attached to Mandangad police station in Ratnagiri, who is investigating the case said, “On Saturday around 6.30 am, they came to the beach and entered the waters after taking a tip from local residents on where to find turtles. After some time, they realised that they have ventured too far into the waters and four group members Shreyas, Tejas and two girls started drowning. Amey Bhagat, a software techie working with a Mumbai firm, realised the gravity of the situation and raised an alarm. Other group members along with the help of locals were successful in rescuing the two girls and Shreyas while Tejas drowned.”
Sayeed said that the turtle festival is held from March 15 to 17 at the Velas beach, where hundreds of tourists arrive every year. On Saturday, the fishermen and coastal guards had gone home to make preparations for Holi.
Tejas’s elder sister Mrunal said, “Last year, both my brothers had gone to the festival and had planned it this year too. After my mother got a call from the police, she is in a state of shock. I am unable to digest the truth too. My father, who is a professor in Akola, is rushing to Pune.”
Superintendent of police (Ratnagiri) Sanjay Shinde said, “They were a group of 10 youngsters including two girls who had come to Velas by a hired car from Panvel. While all others were rescued, Tejas drowned. Later, a team of police and local fishermen fished out his body around 9 am. We rushed him to a nearby hospital but he was declared dead. His postmortem report mentioned drowning as the cause of death and his body has been sent to Pune.”