The helpline set up at the district Collectorate on Wednesday for information on persons from the State stranded in Uttarakhand due to the floods has been flooded with calls from anxious relatives. Till Thursday the helpline received over 111 calls, 59 from the district and 52 from other districts, requesting information on 715 pilgrims from the region.
Further, some 1,075 calls were received from persons in other districts and States, seeking information about their relatives from the district.
Desperate for communication
The helpline set up in AP Bhavan in New Delhi for the purpose received 17 calls from people in the district requesting information about their stranded relatives.
For relatives it is an agonising wait for just a word of safety from the stranded pilgrims. Lakshmi of Seetammadhara broke down saying there was no communication from her sister, P.V. Sunita, and brother-in-law Syam Prasad, who works in HPCL, and another 13 of their relatives after darshan on Sunday at Kedarnath. The group of 17, from Maddilapalem in Visakhapatnam, flew to Delhi and from there to Kedarnath by a private vehicle. The group includes a two-year-old child and two 60-year-old persons. They called back on Sunday that they were caught in heavy rain.
The two of them were carried up to 8 km in a doli after which the landslides came cutting them off from the rest. However, the two spoke to Lakshmi and informed her of their condition and the plight of the others. It was learnt that they would be evacuated by helicopter to Dehradun.
“But to even to make such an arrangement, we do not know where the others are. All we want to hear is that they are safe,” Ms. Lakshmi said in a choked voice.
Ranga Reddy, 73, and his wife Venkatalakshmi left from Vijayawada along with 20 others by train on June 3. From Delhi they went by a private bus to Kedarnath. “I heard from them on Sunday that they had darshan and it was raining heavily,” their daughter Sujata, who lives at NAD Kotta Road here said. After that there was no communication. Since both of them were aged she was worried whether they had food, water and how their health was.
K. Narayana Rao and 14 other relatives of Balayya Sastry Layout at Seethammadhara in the city left for Kedarnath by an Air India flight on June 9. Their relatives in the city lost contact with them since Sunday.
“They contacted us on Saturday night and told us that they all left together for Kedarnath. Two women were carried in dolis and the bearers took them fast and dropped them without waiting for the others. The two women managed to reach the Gourikund guesthouse and met some pilgrims who came from Vijayawada. They contacted us on Sunday evening and told us that they were separated from the group and were unable to establish contact with them,” said Kiran Kumar, a relative.
“Later, we lost contact with the two women also. We could subsequently contact the pilgrims from Vijayawada and they told us that the two women were taken to the Rampur checkpost and lodged there. We failed to get any information on the other 13 members of the group, which included a baby. On contacting the helpline set up at the Collectorate here, we were told that the 13 members were safe but there was no confirmation.”
Mobile battery down
They said that the two women would be shifted to Dehradun. “I sent my father and mother on the pilgrimage. They went on such a long journey for the first time. Both of them are illiterate and can’t speak any language other than Telugu,” said Jagadish Kumar of A.S. Peta village of Kasimkota mandal in the district, in a voice choked with emotion.
“They had gone along with six other relatives and we received the last call on Saturday night. They told us that they alighted at the railway station and would take a vehicle the next morning. My father told me that the battery of his mobile was down and that he would charge it after going to the room. Later, when I tried to call I was getting the message ‘switched off’.
“I called my cousin, who is working in the Army at Badrinath. He contacted some of his unit members and told me that 12 pilgrims from Anakapalle were airlifted and kept in a room but he had no information of my parents,” said Jagadish, who is a driver in a private company in the district.