Even as hopes to find the missing French trekkers are now fading with no trace after 15 days, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to launch a massive manhunt to find the trekkers with the help of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team.
A 17-member team of NDRF, including two assistant sub-inspector (ASI)-rank officials, would arrive in the town on Friday evening. The search operation will start on Saturday morning.
Kangra deputy commissioner C Paulrasu confirmed that a team of the 7th NDRF Battalion, Bathinda, Punjab, is on its way to Dharamsala and will reach here on Friday evening.
Valentin Marcel Gorges and Francois Xavier Camille, both in their early 20s, had gone for trekking along with their group members to Tirund area on August 20.
While the entire group returned to Dharamkot, where they were staying, on August 22, the two insisted on trekking further to snow-clad peaks in Dhaludhar mountain range. Both of them have not been seen since then.
"A massive search operation will be launched on Saturday morning to trace the missing trekkers," Paulrasu said, adding that a team of 20 people, including police personnel, members of the Himalayan Trekkers' Association, forest guards, locals mainly from the shepherd community and porters, would assist the NDRF team in the search operation.
Kangra superintendent of police Balbir Thakur said the Kangra police had sent a request to the NDRF through the state government for help in search operation. He told that the police officials would chalk out a strategy on the search operation with the NDRF team.
"Some of our personnel who were involved in the search operations will be accompanying the NDRF team," said Thakur.
Meanwhile, ASP Mohit Chawla, who is supervising the operation, said the local cops have already set up a base camp for the team at Triund, the popular trekking route from where the two backpackers had gone missing.
"We have also requested the forest department to deploy forest guards in search operation. They will be helpful during the search operation in the dense forest above Triund," said Chawla.
The families of the missing trekkers have also announced a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for anyone who will find or gives any information about them.
Camille's father and an aunt of Gorges reached the town to know their whereabouts, said an official.
The rescue teams, comprising local police and trekkers, have till now searched the entire area up to Nag Dal Lake on the other side of the Dhauladhar in the past 15 days, but did not find the duo.