By Taniya Dutta
A British couple was attacked by two pistol-wielded men when they were camping on the banks of river Ganga-the holiest, in eastern India.
Mr Mathew, 30 and Jessica Kidd, 28, both schoolteachers from Glasgow, Scotland were on an adventure journey in their rafts when they stopped at Pandarak, a tiny riverine island, 80 kilometres from Patna in Bihar, on Sunday evening.
They were resting in their tent when two men with pistols and sticks came to loot them at 8 pm.
For almost an hour the men, who do not have any criminal record, threatened the couple even as they offered their mobile phones and cash to negotiate for their lives.
But when the attackers, both 22 years old, threatened to molest Jessica, the married couple quickly jumped into their raft and Mathhew swam for two kilometres rowing his wife on the boat, to reach a village to raise an alarm.
As soon as the villagers informed police, local cops reached the spot and gave them security cover.
Mathew said: “We are on an adventure tour in a raft moving downstream on the river Ganga from Haridwar to Calcutta. Around 8 pm on Sunday evening, we reached a place called Pandarak.
“We were camping and had some food when we were apprached by two men who started to threaten us for one hour and he had a gun pointed at us.
“We managed to eascape by running into the water with our boat. I was in the water swimming and we got across to the village where the public phoned the police.
“The youngsters tried to loot us and behaved violently with my wife.”
The police prepared a sketch of the two attackers and based on the police conducted raids in the area and arrested two persons behind the incident within two hours.
Manu Maharaj, Senior Superintendent of Police said: “The couple had reached Patna three days ago. On November 5th they were on an adventure journey on their boat and had stopped at the basin for a night’s rest.
“The couple sought help from nearby villagers, who came to the rescue and informed the police station. By the time police reached there, the men fled the area. The couple then filed a complaint with Pandarak police station.
“Both the accused Chhattu Mahanta and Baija Kumar were traced and arrested from near the banks of the Ganges last night. They have confessed to harassing the couple.”
The cops also received their stolen items from the attackers but the tent is still missing.
“We recovered the stick that they used to scare the couple. They have said they did not carry a pistol and we are yet to recover it. The couple has shown tremendous courage.
“We have initiated a probe and would like this case to be run under speedy trial. We are taking this incident very seriously,” said the officer adding that the couple resumed their journey the next day.
Matthew, a high school teacher of geography and an ex-navy man and his wife Jessica had reached India on September 13.
After visiting Rishikesh on he foothills of Himalayas, they started their journey in rafts from Haridwar-the holiest place for Hindus in Uttar Pradesh in northern India on September 27 and were going to Kolkata in eastern India.
They were to reach Kolkata on December 14 after covering a distance of about 2,150 km in 78 days and from there they were to return to Scotland.
The were rowing 30-40 kilometre a day and would stop on islands or villages on the shore for rest.
The couple were moving downstream in their boat armed with a plastic tent for night accommodation, GPS-enabled navigation device, dry fruits, biscuits, water bottles and medicines.
“None of the things were looted from them. The couple had tried to negotiate and offer their mobile phones and cash but the two refused. However, the tents, were missing when we reached the spot.
“The place is extremely secluded. Even we make arrangements before going there. But the couple had only stopped to take rest as they were to resume their journey next morning,” said Manish Tiwari, Assistant Superintendent of Police.
Matthew and Jessica, however, were all praise for the people of India.
Jessica said: “We started our tour from Haridwar in September and travelling downstream we celebrated Diwali and Chhath. The people have been extremely cooperative in providing us food and Indian delicacies,” said Jessica, who teaches English in Glasgow.