Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Thursday distributed monetary relief to the kin of the police personnel who went missing in the mid-June disaster. The 18 people who received the compensation included a home guard and three firemen who got swept away in the flash floods that hit Uttarkashi last year.
The money distributed via cheques included Rs. 10 lakh from the Uttarakhand government. The Border Security Force (BSF) contributed Rs. five lakh to the kin of every police personnel missing in Kedarnath, which is in Rudraprayag district. Uttarakhand police department also donated Rs. 2.5 lakh to the kin of the missing police personnel and firemen.
In total, an amount of Rs. 17.5 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh was given to the kin of the police personnel and the kin of the home guard missing in Kedarnath respectively, and Rs. 12.5 lakh was given to the kin of the firemen who died in the flash floods that hit Uttarkashi in August, 2012.
Demand for the death certificates and the bodies of their loved ones were the common concerns of the kin who had come to receive the monetary relief.
Anjana Devi, wife of missing home guard Pooran Singh, and mother of two 5-year-olds, said, “My husband was the only earning member in our family. What will I do once the money is over?”
Mr. Bahuguna said the responsibility of the State government did not end with the distribution of monetary relief. “The State government will pay for the education of the children whose earning members have gone missing,” he added.
Puran Singh, father of Kalpana Arya, a police personnel who was posted in Kedarnath and is missing, said, “I want the body of my daughter to get it cremated. What will I do with the money?”
Mr. Singh said he had requested the Rudraprayag Superintendent of Police (SP) to allow him and others to look for the bodies in Kedarnath but he denied them the permission.
Anil Singh, who also went missing in Kedarnath, was initially posted in Gaurikund. His brother Sunil Singh said, “Anil shifted from Gaurikund to Kedarnath on June 13. We spoke to him on June 16 for the last time.”
Sunil said he went till Gaurikund to search for his brother but he did not get the permission to go further. “Everyone in the family was dependent [for money] on our brother who went missing. We need a job on compassionate grounds. This money is not enough to run the house forever,” Sunil added. Mr. Bahuguna said the government would already be paying for the education of the children, so a job on compassionate grounds would only be given after testing the abilities of the family members who would apply for the job.
Narendra Pawar, nephew of Kunwar Singh who too went missing in Kedarnath, said, “When will the government declare the missing as dead? The death certificate is needed for claiming insurance money.” The kin of those who are missing are unable to make an insurance claim since the government is denying declaring the missing as dead.
Mr. Bahuguna said talks were on with the Finance Ministry regarding the issue of insurance claims.