A year after 24 students of a Hyderabad-based engineering college were swept away in the Beas at Thalaut in Mandi, their parents are still fighting for justice.
Though the Himachal Pradesh high court had awarded the parents a compensation of `5 lakh each, they have appealed to the court for strict action against the management of VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology where their children studied.
The high court had directed that the Larji hydroelectric power project authorities and management of the engineering college would jointly bear the compensation by paying each of the parents `2.5 lakh each. It had also asked the parents to file an affidavit that they had not filed a petition for compensation in any other court of the country.
"Nobody has been held responsible for the death of the 24 students," said KRKV Prasad, father of one of the students Sri Harsha.
Worse, Sri Harsha's body was handed over to the parents of another student Shiva Prakash Verma. "My son was deprived of getting respectable last rites due to the negligence of the college management who wrongly identified the body and handed it over to somebody else," Prasad said, while questioning, "Isn't anybody responsible for this? If yes, why no action has been taken so far?"
Stating that the public memory was not short, parents of the deceased students while carrying out a foot march in Hyderabad on Monday, demanded strict action against the institute as a deterrent for others.
"We have lost our children, but we are united to tell others that negligence of individuals and institutions will not be tolerated," A Radhakrishna, father of deceased student Gavithre, said.
"The government knows who the culprit is, but no action has been taken. Had the high court not been there, nothing would have been done," A Surya Kumar, father of deceased Akula Vijeta, told Hindustan times over telephone. He said though the high court had ordered compensation, the engineering college should also face punitive action.
On an industrial tour, the students were on their way from Shimla to Manali when they stopped on the banks of the Beas for some photographs. Soon after, the water level rose as the floodgates of Larji hydroelectric power project were abruptly opened, sending tonnes of water downstream that washed away the students and a tour operator.
The 25 bodies were fished out after a over month-long search operation by the personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), army, navy, police, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and 50 expert divers.
Earlier in October 2012, two students of the same institute had died when they were taken to Pulichinthala Project for an educational tour. Pulichinthala hydropower project is located on the border of Guntur and Nalgonda district in Telangana.