The drowning of a boy at Zomlingthang, Punakha, and another missing presumed dead was a shell-shocking news in the otherwise calm Saturday afternoon.
The snippets of information trickled via BBS and social media with the former even having some unverified facts, which of course they correct later. But that had already started the blame game.
I was dumbstruck. Why are we so judgmental? Is it because we are fed misleading-information? Or is it because we want to relish in the fact that someone has made a mistake.
People started blaming the school and teachers, the parents, the students themselves, the guide, …anybody that they could associate with the incident.
I don’t blame the school and teachers for not being aware of this picnic trip. Their’s is a day-school where the evenings, nights and week-ends are at the student’s own discretion to use at their own pleasure. But there could have been more opportunities for sensitization of risk-reduction for disasters occurring not only riverside, but in urban roads, and inside buildings too.
Parents are also excused for their unawareness, since students could be usually engaged for sports practices, dance practices, extra classes, social work, peer-group study etc on weekends. And some of the students may not be staying with their parents, but with other relatives, or even bunking up with some friends. But at the end of the day, they are your children, under your care. They are your responsibility.
Students themselves? Certainly not. For not informing their parents and school? Nope. I would certainly vouch that they didn’t plan on dying that day. The day was just another outing with their friends. And I can assure you that Zomlingthang might have had some other groups of youngsters picnicking there as well. But taking unwarranted risks?
No. I will not even blame the guide, for his haughtiness in assuring safety of the girl in crossing that part of the river. I will also not blame him for his slight-alcoholic-intoxication which would have boosted his courage enough to risk fording that section of the river towards that island. But my mind is still boggled wondering how an ex-employee of Lotus Rafting got involved among this students-only gathering. Maybe they are friends.
So, instead I blame the river for being murky, swelling suddenly, and flowing fast this summer season.
But I thank all those people involved in the Search and Rescue, relaying information, and hosting the survivors.