HASSAN: The software engineer from Chennai, who went missing in a monsoon-braving expedition in the dense forest of Sakleshpur forest in Hassan district, was traced on Tuesday by the district police.
The police were assisted by revenue officials and Anti-Naxal Force personnel, who traced the youth about 40 km from where he had gone missing on Saturday.
Srikanth Balaji (24), employed with an IT major, was left behind at the 8th km of the four day/three nights trek organised by Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), apparently when he bent down to tie his shoe laces. The 14-member trekking group, led by Peter Van Geit, also the founder of CTC, divided themselves into other smaller groups to go in search of Balaji, but their efforts were in vain.
Meanwhile, SP Ravi D Channannavar, who was informed about the missing youth on Monday, pressed a police team for search and rescue operations. The team entered the forest area near Gundia and traced Balaji in the forest range between Subramanya and Kemphole forests on Tuesday.
Police said the trekkers had entered the forest range on July 25 without informing forest officials.
The group said they had a tough time trekking because of continuous rain, and finally lost the way. However, they are all unsure as to how Balaji went missing.
Speaking to Express, Balaji’s father, ‘MGR’ Amaran, said his son braved the entire stretch of the trekking path alone with the help of a map and other essentials of the trekking kit, which was in his possession.
“After he was left behind at the 8th km, my son continued to walk towards the end point. He lost his way when the trail diversified into three routes. He took the one heading southeast and continued walking,” Amaran said.
Srikanth, however, said he didn’t know how he got separated from the group. He added that he could not see anything due to the heavy rain.
The entire group has been booked for trespassing into the restricted forest area without prior permission, police said.