Two trekkers, one of them a woman, died during an outing in Himachal Pradesh’s Bir Billing. For two days, a German Shepherd dog accompanying them remained beside the bodies and kept barking till they were found on Tuesday, nearly 48 hours after they went missing.
The dead trekkers have been identified as Abhinandan Gupta (30) from Punjab’s Pathankot and Pranita Wala (26) from Pune. The two appear to have died after a fall, but authorities said the post-mortem would confirm the cause of death.
Bir Billing, located at an altitude of 5,000 feet, is a favoured destination for treks and paragliding. Kangra district police chief Veer Bahadur said Gupta had been living in the area for the past four years for paragliding and trekking activities. The woman, he said, arrived from Pune a few days back and had set out after a round of snowfall. “The preliminary probe has found that a group of four people, two of them women, set out in a car. When the car could not proceed beyond a point, they started walking. As the weather changed, two people in the group backed off and returned to safety with the help of others there. But Gupta reportedly said that he knows the route and he, Pranita and the dog went on their way,” the officer said.
The others part of the group had registered a missing complaint after Gupta and Wala did not return for a long time. Soon after, a search party was sent to look for them.
One of the members in the rescue team said they put two teams in action. The bodies were located three kilometres below the point from where paragliders take off.
“This is a steep area and turns very slippery during snowfall. It appears they slipped and fell. They managed to get up once, but slipped again,” he said. As he spoke, the German Shepherd kept barking and wailing next to the bodies. The bodies have been handed over to the families after autopsy.
Senior police officer Bahadur had a message for tourists. “The Kangra district is receiving heavy snowfall and the weather is changing swiftly. So any tourist venturing out must be accompanied by a local resident or a guide who has knowledge about this area. Tracks get covered in snow and it is not possible for tourists to figure out the route.” He said phones are of no use due to poor connectivity in the area. “Avoid going out, the weather is poor,” he added.