M A I N   N E W S

4 months on, Diwali fails to dispel darkness at Kedarnath
Ajay Ramola
Tribune News Service

Kedarnath, November 2
As the nation dispels darkness this Diwali, the Kedarnath area in the Himalayas continues to be in its five-month-long gloom. For the people here, the light has gone out of their lives, literally.

For the kith and kin of victims of the cloudburst that struck the Kedarnath region on June 16 and 17, the festival of lights has no meaning. After trekking around 23 km from Son Prayag, they have had to search for their dear ones in the rubble scattered around the shrine. The relatives of persons missing in the disaster claim that they were on their own in the search. They alleged that government officials and public representatives assisted them in no way in finding the loved ones who were caught in the fury of the Mandakini on that fateful day.

Hoping against hope, Ramnaresh Yadav, a resident of Rajasthan, is looking for his younger brother Umesh and his family. He, along with his wife Archana and two sons Pranay and Raj, were reportedly last seen at Ram Bada.

After scouting the area, he was told that many bodies were scattered in the jungles of Rambada and Junglechatti, but the government was showing no interest in retrieving those. If relief to humans has been so delayed, the condition of animals can only be imagined. The owners of mules, which made it easier for pilgrims to have the Lord’s ‘darshan’, continue to wait for the government to deliver on its promise of compensation.

“More than 2,000 mules were buried between Gauri Kund and Kedarnath but the government hasn’t yet made an effort to find out the real figure,” said Raj Singh, a mule owner. Skeleton of mules lying en route Kedarnath corroborated his statement. The government had also announced that the Geological Survey of India and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would also help in the operation, but ASI team members were only seen removing stains of the disaster inside the temple. They expressed their inability to assist in removing the bodies as they were not mandated for that job.

The nodal officer who has been assigned to oversee the cleaning-up project, refuted the claims of the temple priests and mule operators.

He said that the compensation amount has been distributed to most mule operators and the process was on to provide relief to all affected persons.

Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt said that he had assisted some priests in finding six bodies while he was on a Char Dham inspection trip a few days back. He alleged that the Chief Minister was lying about no bodies being visible in the holy town.

Ganesh Godiyal, chairman, Badri-Kedar Samiti, refuted Bhatt’s claims and said that he was playing petty politics over the bodies of disaster victims and trying to malign the image of Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

Priests in no mood to celebrate

  • The Kedarnath temple priest community is in no mood to celebrate Diwali this year as more than 150 members of the community are believed to be either missing or dead
  • They allege that contrary to its claims, the government has done nothing to clear Kedarnath of bodies
  • Priests say they have been retrieving bodies on a daily basis as these remain scattered inside the damaged ashrams, houses, etc
  • Rubble can be seen at ground zero even five months after the flash floods which resulted in mass scale devastation and loss of life here





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