Four days after the disappearance of a nuclear scientist at the Kaiga power plant under mysterious circumstances, police on Thursday remained in the dark over his whereabouts as the search operation intensified.
Loknath Mahalingam (48), a senior scientific officer at the Training Centre of Kaiga Atomic Energy Station, about 600 km north-west of the state capital, is reported missing after he stepped out for an early morning stroll on Monday (June 8th).
Oddly, he did not carry his mobile phone or wallet that morning, adding more mystery to the case.
His wife, Vinayaka Sundari, lodged a complaint with the local police when colleagues and neighbours could not find him anywhere on the campus or at work.
“We have searched for him in the township and neighbouring areas but did not find any trace of this person even in a lake behind Ramalingeswara temple. We are looking for him near some places of worship,” said Vittal Das Pai, the investigating officer.
The search for the missing engineer has been intensified since Thursday morning with personnel of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) joining teams of police officers of Uttara Kannda district.
“We are investigating the case, looking at details. Our officers have been talking to the family and colleagues. The SP (Ramana Gupta) has gone there and also spoken to some of them,” said Gopal Hosur, inspector general of police.
“Till now no clue has been found mainly because of the geographical hindrance of around 1000 acre dense forest adjacent to the campus and the overflowing Kali river due to the monsoon,” a senior police official said.
At the township, Mahalingam’s relatives and colleagues have been performing special pooja for the engineer’s return. “He is a calm and intelligent person and used to interact with us about training sessions,” said R.R. Thorat, additional general manager, Kaiga Atomic Energy Station.
“He joined us in 1985 and has been at Kaiga since 2000. We have conducted poojas at many temples in the township and neighbouring places,” Thorat said.
“He was very happy and so were all of us about his daughter Malvika (17), who topped the recent class ten exams at our AECS (atomic energy commission school) in Mallapura.”
Thorat said this is the first instance of an engineer reported missing from Kaiga Atomic Energy Station. “We are distressed about his disappearance and are hoping he is safe and will return to work with us,” he said.