M A I N   N E W S

Washed away in Leh floods: A bright future
Chandigarh Navodaya topper among victims; sister needs help to study
Aditi Tandon writes from Leh

Thirty-five years old Stanzan Dolma has only memories left of her daughter Denchen, a Class VIII topper from Chandigarh’s Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in Sector 25, where she had been studying since the last two years.

Denchen Paldon is no more. On summer vacations to her native Choglamsar village in Leh, she got washed away in the floods that hit Ladakh on the night of August 6. Her mother and younger sister Skalzang survived, but only to be left as good as dead.

“The children were sleeping when the waters came in gushing around 11.35 pm. I barely managed to wake them up. It was as though the sky had left open all pipes. Denchen went off in seconds. People were flying away into the water. In 20 minutes, everything was razed,” recalls Stanzan, huddled in one corner of Himank relief camp at Choglamsar, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited this week.

Until that fateful night, everything was going well for this family, having braved odds for years. Abandoned by her husband, Stanzan took upon herself to educate her daughters. She sent them to Chandigarh Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sector 29, under the Scheduled Tribe category. Soon, Denchen cracked the CBSE all-India test to enter Class VI at Chandigarh JNV. Her sister followed suit this year and was to return for admissions when the tragedy struck. Ironically, both would have been back by August 1 had their mother not extended the stay.

Now, she can’t stop cursing herself as memories come gushing by: “The sisters were so excited. I was also relieved as JNV has a hostel and I would have saved the money I spent on children’s rent in Chandigarh. For their sake, I sold vegetables, did all kinds of odd jobs… Everything is finished now,” Stanzan breaks down, seeking sponsorship for her younger daughter who is in trauma after losing her sibling, her soul mate. Also, she is haunted by a constant fear of the floods. “What if waters take away my mother too?” says the girl, as The Tribune offered to take her back to her school.

In Chandigarh, JNV principal Pawan Kumar Sharma today heard the news of Denchen’s death from this correspondent. He said, “We sent several letters on Denchen’s Leh address wondering where she was. She left in June for holidays. We are shocked to hear this. She was brilliant and very sober. It’s a huge loss to us.”

The school has assured that though admission deadline for entry to Class VI expired today, it would write to the CBSE to treat Skalzang’s case with the compassion it deserves. The JNV has sought from The Tribune a letter about the tragedy involving the family.

Stanzan is, meanwhile, hoping someone would assume the guardianship of her child till the time she pieces her life together. She can’t leave Leh until land claims are sorted out.





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