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Updated: June 21, 2013 01:04 IST

First batch of returnees has a taste of official apathy

Special Correspondent
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Things improved only after MoS, Railways Jayasuryaprakash Reddy Kotla, alerted by the media, entered the scene

The first batch of about 150 to 200 Char Dham pilgrims hailing from Andhra Pradesh reached the A.P. Bhavan in New Delhi in groups from the midnight of Wednesday and found their misery compounded by a callous administration with the officials initially unresponsive.

After five days of suffering, stranded as they were in hilly hostile terrain and hungry, about 150 people made their way to the A.P. Bhavan, looking for help in returning home. However, it is said officials were rather matter-of-fact and said they would make arrangements, including food and onward journey reservations, on Thursday morning, provided the pilgrims paid for it.

When the media got wind of the situation and scrolls were run in television channels, Union Minister of State for Railways Kotla Jayasuryaprakash Reddy rushed to A.P. Bhavan and gave a piece of his mind to officials, including the Resident Commissioner, Shashank Goel. Emergency services from the Railways were requisitioned and he had a helpdesk set up at A.P. Bhavan, apart from organising a medical camp to help those who were sick.

Kiran raps officials

Meanwhile, it is understood that the Union Minister also informed the Chief Minister’s Office, after which Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy took officials to task. The pilgrims were given facility to freshen up and food was offered, after which, their details were taken by the railway officials to facilitate their travel back home.

The Union Minister wanted railway officials to have additional coaches attached to A.P., Dakshin Express and other scheduled trains bound for Hyderabad. He asked Executive Director-Coaching of the Railways to mobilise coaches from other zones in case the number of pilgrims bound for A.P. was big enough to warrant a special train. Mr. Suryaprakash Reddy asked officials to attach additional coaches on trains bound for Secunderabad, Kacheguda and Vijayawada from Haridwar to help the harassed pilgrims.

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