A pall of gloom descended on a private engineering college here on Monday after a trip by 48 students to Himachal Pradesh turned tragic, even as its management and parents clashed over the purpose of the tour.
Rescue personnel gather on the banks of the Beas river during a search operation in Kullu, a day after 24 engineering students of Hyderabad were washed away. (AFP Photo)
Shocked after hearing about the tragedy on Sunday evening, the parents and relatives rushed to the college at Bachupally area here since the wee hours of the morning seeking information about their loved ones. Some of them burst into tears and wept unconsolably.
A group of 48 students of VNG Vijgana Jyothy Engineering College, along with three faculty members, was on a study tour when around 25 of them were washed away during a sudden surge of water when they were clicking pictures on the banks of river Beas in the hill state.
The parents and relatives complained that they did not receive any information regarding the incident from the college management and some of them vented their anger at them for allegedly not taking their prior permission and not giving any clarity before taking their wards on the tour.
Read: Bodies of 5 students recovered, 21 still missing in Himachal Pradesh
The students were in two buses, while a group from one of the buses went near the river for clicking photographs.
"Why were they (students) taken to the river bed in the night? Did anyone inform us... were the parents told about this? They only collected Rs. 15,000 from each student," one Naik, father of a student Rambabu who was part of the trip, said.
"I had spoken to my son on June 5 last. His exams had completed on June 2 and he said the college management was taking them for the tour. Whether it is study tour or a picnic trip... nothing was informed by the management," said Naik, who hails from Nalgonda district.
"After hearing the tragic news through TV on Sunday night, I came at 3am (college campus). The college management told us that they are taking the students to Himachal Pradesh... but so far there is no clarity," he said, voicing his anger at the management.
The college management on its part said it had obtained consent from all parents concerned for the trip. According to C Kiran Mai, vice-principal of the private institute, the college had obtained consent from the parents of all students for the study tour, which was part of their curriculum.
Read: Hyderabad students' deaths expose Himachal's lack of contingency plans
Mai's assertion came in the wake of allegations by some parents that the college management did not inform them about the purpose of the tour.
The College public relations officer Gopal Reddy said the trip was a "study-cum-excursion tour".