Bengaluru/Hassan: Srikanth Balaji, the software professional from Chennai who went missing in the thick forests of Western Ghats in Hassan district was rescued by a team of police and foresters after 48 hours and 35 km away from the starting point of the trek. Recounting his ordeal Srikanth claimed he came across herds of wild gaur and numerous cobras before walking to safety.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was called in on Tuesday after a police complaint was lodged by Srikanth’s parents. The search ended around 2.30 pm after Srikanth was picked up near Uppina Angadi.
About 16 members from Chennai Trekkers Club had illegally entered the forests of Sakaleshpur and reached their base camp at Aramane Gudda. When they resumed trekking Srikanth fell behind after he stopped to tie his shoelace. He later took a left turn, instead of heading straight.
“When we realised that one member was missing, we returned to the base camp. We divided ourselves into different teams and started looking for Srikanth,” the other team members reportedly told Hassan Police.
Hassan district Superintendent of Police Ravi D. Chennannavar said that Srikhanth survived due to sheer luck. “He had food and other basic rescue kit in his bag and there was enough water during monsoon. But luckily he did not have to face wild animals. Srikanth is expected to be reunited with his parents on Tuesday night and they will leave for Chennai on Wednesday,” the officer said. The Forest Department has imposed charges trespassing against the trekking organiser and the team members.
The adventure experts have been calling for strict rules to ensure that trekking groups don’t take up expedition without the help of any local expertise.
“One must inform the local forest officials, so that they can send a forest officer along with the group. During monsoon it is also difficult to trace the footsteps with most of the rivers in spate. The adventure groups which enter the wildlife areas without permission must be banned,” said Dev Balaji, an adventure event organiser from Bengaluru. Srikanth’s parents were delighted after they got the news of their son's rescue. “It’s the will power of my son which may have saved him. We thank you one and all who have helped us in finding him back,” said M. G. R. Amaran, father of Srikanth....