Uttarakhand: Families seek video footages of relief camps

Guptkashi, PTI | Updated : 23 June 2013, 07:47 PM

Relatives of people stranded in Uttarakhand have asked authorities to shoot video footages of the relief camps being run by them, saying the visual evidence shown to them can serve as an assurance that due care of their dear ones is being taken.

"We may not be able to see our people or recognise anyone we know, but would feel assured that best possible care is being taken," said Satya Prakash Mangal from Kota in Rajasthan, in search of his sister and brother-in-law, who are untraceable since June 16.

"The government should shoot video footage of relief camps at Jungle Chatti, Gauri Kund and share it with the public," he said, saying that inquiries at Jolly Grant airport and numerous calls on helplines have yielded no clue so far.

"I have spoken to countless pilgrims who have been brought back from affected areas. I have shown them photographs of my sister and her husband. But none was able to give me a ray of hope," said Mangal.

As the wait for news about their loved ones turns from days into a week, large number anxious families camping in Uttarakhand also second to the suggestion of video footages.

Despite the best efforts of the administration, some 30,000 people are still stranded in affected areas.

As the toll creeps up -- media is reporting over 600 dead in Uttarakhand -- there is foreboding among the relatives of missing persons.

"May be they are alright and on their way back. But it would be good to know that it is so," said Bhagwati Lal Sukhwal from Rajasthan, whose relatives were part of a 12-member group that had gone on a pilgrimage.

"Three members of that group managed to contact us. They are safe. But what about the rest?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Rudraprayag DM Dilip Jawalkar said all stranded persons should be rescued within next few days.

"On Friday we brought back 16,000 people. Most road routes have been cleared. Buses are moving. All stranded persons should be out within a day or two," Jawalkar said yesterday.

Uttarakhand Principal Secretary Rakesh Sharma, who is in charge of rescue operations, said in Dehradun on Friday that "the death toll can only be determined on the basis of the number of bodies recovered.

The distraught families are banking on the administration for the whereabouts of their dear ones.

Indeed, there are eyewitness accounts of the horrific situation in the Kedarnath Valley, but the hope these people still stands tall against all odds.

Meanwhile some of the lucky survivors who managed to escape the nature's mayhem, recount the past few days as the worst of their lives, alleging that no immediate help was extended to them in the crucial initial period.

Having experienced a close encounter with death, the survivors termed local residents as godsends, who extended a helping hand when they were trapped in the flood-ravaged areas.

"The local people were helpful but no one from the administration came to our rescue," said one survivor.

Another survivor, who reached Dehradun after trekking almost 25 kilometres, shared his horrific experience with mediapersons.

"I had moved away from Gangotri, but was then stranded for five days. The only help I received was from the locals who organised a bhandara for all of us stuck there," he said.

"The government has focused its rescue efforts on Kedarnath, and no help has been forthcoming to rest of the people stranded elsewhere," he added.

A survivor, who reached Dehradun, revealed that despite repeated assurances of rescue, nothing materialised on ground.

"We were at a place near Bhatwari and had to walk almost 30 kilometres to reach a safe place. We had been told a helicopter will come to our aid but that did not happen," he said in an anger-blended tone.

The same tale of woes was repeated by several other people, with some also complaining of misbehaviour by police.

"We were shifted from Gangotri on June 16 by the ITBP. While we stayed for two days in a local ashram, the third day saw the local police misbehaving with us," said one survivor.

"They asked the locals not to cooperate with us and finally on June 19 we started on foot to cover 23 kilometres to reach safer grounds," he added.

A woman, who finally reached Dehradun after remaining stranded near Gangotri, recalled her walk through the dangerous terrain.

"There were stretches when one wrong step would have sent us tumbling down into a deep valley. It was very difficult," she said.

Yet another woman, who luckily survived a landslide told reporters, "I saw mud coming down over the road and blocking the path of the vehicle I was travelling in. We barely escaped, but no one from the administration was there to help us."

First Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 07:45 PM
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