September 29, day of mourning in Patiala
Kanwar Inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in/ Chandigarh
Residents of Patiala never forgets September 29. It was one of the darkest day in the history of Patiala when 22 students of Class VI of Our Lady of Fatima School, Patiala drowned while picnicking around the Nangal Dam area.
The boat accident took place on September 29,1982 at Nangal, at 4:30 PM. The children accompanied by teachers went for a boat ride, when a privately run overloaded ferry, taking the children across the Nangal river, suddenly capsized in mid stream. There were 73 children at the time of accident, in two boats , when one of the boats started sinking, the children panicked and screamed for help and the process overturned the boat which capsized. Two rescue boats were sent to save the children out of which one rescue boat also capsized and there was further delay. 51 of the 73 children in two boats survived drowning. Out of the 22 children who were drowned, 13 were boys and 9 girls.
The families are still under acute grief as the memories of their beloved young souls are still fresh in their minds. “Loss of a sibling is the greatest loss, that too at a tender age. My heart still trembles whenever I think about the incident as I was also a part of the trip but I was fortunate enough to survive whereas the destiny had other plans”,said a parent.
The 22 flower pots commemorate those who died and the names of children are listed just below the statue of Lady Fatima at the school entrance. Later their parents established the Children Memorial Trust and opened a Children Memorial Senior Secondary School.
September 29, day of mourning in Patiala. Every year the parents, brothers, sisters, relatives along with residents of Patiala pay tributes to these 22 children-
Tejinder Pal Nakai