Slain backpacker Dror Sheck laid to rest

Dror Scheck was robbed and stabbed near a Parvati Valley village on Sunday.

By SHELLY PAZ
July 18, 2007 22:38
4 minute read.
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Slain Israeli backpacker Dror Sheck was buried at 7 p.m. Thursday evening in Givat Avni after his body was flown back to Israel from India. The friends he was hiking with were still in India's Himachal Pradesh province, cooperating with the police investigation. "I am just glad his body was evacuated and that he will be brought to burial soon," Avigail Mageli, a close friend of the deceased who was hiking just out of sight of him when the murder occurred, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Sheck, from Givat Avni in the lower Galilee, was found mortally wounded by his Israeli backpacker friends on Sunday afternoon, shortly after he was robbed and stabbed in the stomach, probably by local criminals. Sheck's body was brought to Delhi on Tuesday night after local residents carried it by foot for 12 hours to reach a road. Mageli told thePost that five Israelis and a tour guide had set out for a trek on Sunday morning. "After a few hours of walking we sat and rested. Dror said he wanted to rest some more and that his back was hurting. We tried to convince him not to lag behind, but he insisted. Ran, one of the friends, stayed with him. In these sorts of treks, no one walks next to someone, everybody walks at a two-minute distance from the next person. "Ran noticed that Dror was lagging more than a few minutes behind and he went back to look for him. He found him bleeding, lying on a small path. Next to him was a knife stained with blood and the leaves next to him had blood on them too," Mageli said. After attempts to save him failed, they carried Sheck's body to the next village, Kiriganga. The young backpackers decided they should guard the corpse and refused to let anyone near it. "On Monday morning, policemen arrived with towels around their necks. It seemed like they were on their way back from the hot springs in the area. They took their time, went to drink tea, and at six o'clock in the evening they remembered there was a body that needed to be evacuated. "It was too late to carry the body on the steep path and it was beginning to get dark, so we said we didn't want them to carry it. We didn't know what they might do with the body and they didn't seem ready to help," Mageli said. After guarding Sheck's remains in Kiriganga for more than 40 hours with the help of a dozen Israelis whom they met there for the first time, a rescue team arrived on foot. Manas Sarkar from Manali, who owns a private rescue company, led the rescue team. "The whole operation was coordinated from Manali. The rescuers reached the point where Sheck's body and his friends were waiting around six o'clock in the morning, Tuesday. It was raining heavily and it was slippery, but they made it. We sent a stretcher and a temporary coffin, and they carried the body, first with the help of his Israeli friends and then by themselves, to a place where a car was waiting for them," Sarkar said. He spoke to the Israeli media via a conference call that was arranged by Clal Health Insurance Company, which insured Sheck. Four of Sheck's friends were asked to stay in the area for a police investigation. They were also asked to deposit their passports in Kiriganga and were brought to Kullu, another village in the Parvati Valley. "We are trying to hold it together until we return home. We spoke to our parents and calmed them down a little bit. We know we won't make it to the funeral but at least Dror will be brought to a proper burial soon," said Mageli. Lior Weintraub, spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in India, was sent to Kullu to support the backpackers. "The police here are investigating this murder case, and as the only witnesses who can assist them they were asked to stay here. I assume it will take a few more days. They have lost a friend and gone through a tough experience, but I can say that I have seen the Indian police solve complicated cases before. They have their own way of working, but it works and we have to respect it," Weintraub said. Ofra Lyth, spokeswoman for the Clal Health Insurance Company, said the company had allocated up to $20,000 to evacuate Sheck's body. "On Monday morning we were busy looking for a company that could land a helicopter there, but we found out that no company was willing to do so because of the bad weather and the monsoon rains. Then we realized that there was no way to do it except with an on-foot rescue team, and then all the arrangements were done in cooperation with the Manali authorities," Lyth said.

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