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Set like a gem in the crown of South America, nestled on the North-Eastern shoulder, defying the raging Atlantic Ocean, Guyana's many waterways reflect the source of it's name "The Land of Many Waters"
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Thursday, May 25, 2006

-- three perish in river
By Shawnel Cudjoe

MOURING: Zalina and Jagnanan Arjune trying to come to grips with losing their son and granddaughter

A YOUNG man’s reported desire to fulfil a dream ended tragically yesterday morning when he and two others perished in the Demerara River.

Dead are Nicky Arjune, 25, and his 10-year-old niece, Karishma Mohan of Lot 275 Samantha Point, Grove, East Bank Demerara. The third victim is a tenant who occupied the lower flat of the Arjune house, 26-year-old Sherry Khemraj, a mother of four.

Sherry Agard, who said she was with them at the riverside, related that she had to fight for her life when she jumped overboard to rescue the others who were in danger.

Tragedy struck around 09:15 h when the group went to the river at Craig, also on the East Bank Demerara, to perform a Hindu ritual, Agard said. Some 15 minutes later, the bodies of Arjune and Khemraj were fished out of the river in the vicinity of the Craig koker (sluice).

Up to press time, Mohan’s body had not been found despite numerous desperate searches by family members.

THE koker where the bodies were found

Agard, of Lot 441 Grove Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara, said after realising they were in danger, she rushed to help but was met with a desperate fight for survival from a struggling Nicky Arjune.

“I tried to help them, but Nicky hold on to my hair and kept pulling me down. I went down two times but I kept fighting up and eventually I free myself,” she related.

She said that all the while, she heard the constant screams of her two children who were standing on the river bank. The woman said her sons begged her not to ‘duck’ under the water again to search for the others and that they will go and get help instead.

According to Agard, when she surfaced again, her sons had called a passer-by, but the man could not swim and he was forced to leave and call others who could.

She said that by the time they arrived, it was too late, since she saw the bodies floating down river.

The rescuers were left with no choice but to head downstream and bring out the bodies.

Recalling the horror story, she said that around 07:30 h yesterday, Karishma Mohan went to her home and told her that her uncle wanted to make an offering at the river and he would like her to accompany him.

Agard said she at first protested because of the rainy conditions but eventually relented and went to their home later in the morning to collect them. She recalled Nicky’s mother telling him not to go, but he went nevertheless because he said he was following a dream.

She said that when they reached the river around 09:15 h, the water was “extra low” and she refused to go in. The other three went into the river to bathe and she said she was left to prepare the items for the religious offering.

“While I was preparing the things, I look up and I just see like they going down” in the water, Agard said.

Acting upon instinct, she said she rushed in to help but was unable to offer much assistance. Agard was unable to say exactly what happened in the water to cause the other three to go under.

She said that after the tragedy, she was taken to the Grove Health Centre because she was suffering from low pressure. She spent two hours there before going over to the Grove Police Station to give a statement, she told the Guyana Chronicle.

She said that at about 17:10 h she was placed on station bail.

Arjune’s father Jagnanan Arjune, 49, told this newspaper that he left home for work around 04:30 h yesterday.

The man, a sand truck driver, said he was later in the morning heading for Georgetown on a trip when he saw a large gathering at the Craig koker. He said someone then stopped the truck and told him that his son had died.

Nicky was unmarried and had no children but he had a brother and a sister.

Karishma, a student of the Grove Primary School, leaves to mourn her parents and a seven-year old sister, Molly. Relatives said the child did not attend school yesterday.

Her father, Seanarine Mohan, fighting back tears, told this newspaper that he too was passing on a truck on which he works when persons from the area who knew him stopped the vehicle and told him what had happened.

He said he had not seen his daughter in quite some time, since he separated from her mother and did not visit often.

Khemraj had lately moved into the Arjune building and was a mother of four, the eldest 11 years old. Her children are living with their father and grandparents.

Khemraj died fighting for her life, relatives said, since she was found clutching tightly to a pontoon against which her body had jammed. Relatives believed that this prevented her from going further down the river.

Arjune was found clutching on to Khemraj.

The bodies were taken to the Lyken Funeral Parlour in Georgetown and Police said they are investigating the incident.

Guyana Chronicle