While bodies of Pinakin and Maulin were recovered from the submerged van, those of Mohit and Jigar were later fished out from the river. (Representational Image)
Four youth from Godhra taluka who were missing since Sunday were found dead in the early hours of Tuesday, with their van submerged in a rivulet near Mendarda town in Junagadh district
Police said the driver of the vehicle lost control and their vehicle plunged into the stream on Junagadh-Mendarda road, killing all four.
Saurabh Singh, Superintendent of Police, Junagadh district, told The Indian Express that the Eco van in which they were travelling was pulled out of the water with the help of a crane in the early hours of Tuesday. Two bodies were trapped in the vehicle and were recovered after the van was pulled out. "Since there was a fear of crocodiles being present in the stream, diving was not possible. The remaining two bodies were fished out later in the day," the SP said.
The deceased have been identified as Pinakin Patel, Maulin Patel, Mohit Patel and Jigar Patel—residents of Rampur village in Godhra taluka of central Gujarat. Police said that the youth had left their homes on Saturday to visit the famous Jalaram Temple in Rajkot district's Virpur town. Their family members lost contact with them in the early hours of Sunday and approached local police in Panchmahal, who then sought the help of Junagadh District Police.
The Junagadh police traced locations of their mobile phones to Junagadh-Mendarda Highway, on the outskirts of Junagadh city, at 4:30 am on Sunday. Since then, their mobile phones had dropped off the network.
While bodies of Pinakin and Maulin were recovered from the submerged van, those of Mohit and Jigar were later fished out from the river. Their relatives told mediapersons that the youth were apparently returning from the temple and were on their way to Somnath when they met with the accident near Khadpipali village on the road leading to Bhatiya village from the highway. "Prima facie they travelled almost non-stop. Due to the long drive, we suspect the driver was sleepy and lost control and the vehicle fell in the river. No foul play is suspected at this stage. Nor are the families alleging one. They were close friends," Singh said, adding that they would seek help from forensic experts to examine the vehicle and to ascertain how the accident could have happened.
"We were also searching in farmhouses and hotels in the district. Meantime, the word had spread that a search was on for them and local people also got involved. Locals first spotted the top of the van on the surface of the water in the river. Family members of the victims then identified that it was the car in which the four had left," said Singh.
While Pinakin worked as a clerk in a pharmacy college, Maulin and Jigar were supervisors at an industrial training institute and Mohit was pursuing a diploma in engineering.