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Maharashtra: ‘How can you declare them dead without bodies?’

Updated on: 08 June,2024 07:03 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Drowning in Russia leaves Indian families in agony as search for missing medical students continues

Maharashtra: ‘How can you declare them dead without bodies?’

Jia Firoj Pinjari and Jishan Ashfaq Pinjari; (right) Harshad Desale

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Maharashtra: ‘How can you declare them dead without bodies?’

How do you know they are dead? How can you declare them dead even though their bodies haven’t been found?” asks an angry Ashfaq Pinjari, father of 20-year-old medical student Jishan Pinjari from Amalner. Jishan reportedly drowned along with his cousin and two others in the Volkhov River in Russia. Out of the five students involved in the tragedy, one was rescued and is currently recovering at the Novgorod Regional Clinical Hospital in Veliky Novgorod.

According to information from the Consulate General of India in St Petersburg and the District Collector of Jalgaon, one student was saved, two bodies were recovered, and two remain missing. The incident occurred on June 4, and search operations were called off on the morning of June 5.

The five students involved are Jishan Ashfaq Pinjari, 20; Jia Firoj Pinjari, 20; Harshad Desale, 19; Malik Gulamgous Mohammed Yakub, 21; and Nisha Bhupesh Sonawane, 19; all medical students at Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University. The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement: “Four Indian students from Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University drowned in an unfortunate incident in the Volkhov River. A fifth Indian student was saved and is receiving medical attention. 

Our Consulate in St Petersburg is in contact with the university and local authorities, providing all possible assistance. Two bodies have been recovered from the river, and the search for the remaining two missing students continues. The students involved are from the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. We are coordinating with local authorities for the repatriation of the mortal remains and remain in contact with the families and the district administration in Jalgaon, Maharashtra.”

Ayush Prasad, District Collector of Jalgaon, said, “The Consulate General of India is in touch with their families. We have been coordinating with judicial, police, and disaster management authorities to provide all possible support to the families.”

Jia and Jishan were residents of Amalner in the Jalgaon district, while Harshad hailed from Bhagaon, also in Jalgaon. Ashfaq Pinjari, upset with the news, refused to speak, stating, “There is no evidence yet that they are dead. We do not wish to speak about it.” Relatives mentioned that Jishan made a video call to his parents while at the Volkhov River. 

“When they entered the river, Jishan made a video call to his parents. His father and others pleaded with him and the others to come out of the water when a strong wave swept them away,” said a relative.

Following an official report from the head of police in Novgorod, the university wrote to the Consulate General of India, Vinay Kumar. Yury V Daneykin, acting rector of Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University, expressed condolences and requested help to repatriate the students’ bodies: “According to the report of the authorized agencies, the students were enjoying a leisurely walk near the city’s beach along the Volkhov River during their study-free time when the accident occurred. The university requests your assistance in repatriating the students’ bodies back to their home country.”

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