Harrowing tale of a stranded pilgrim

G. Venkataramana Rao
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P. Annapurna, who was stranded on a tree for three days two km from the Holy shrine of Kedarnath, has a harrowing tale to share. She returned to the city on Sunday morning. Union Minister of State for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi spoke several minutes with her and promised to do his best for pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, who were stranded in Uttarakhand.

Ms. Annapurna who was stranded was rescued by a helicopter on the third day. She and others from her group were all separated because they hired ‘dolies’ to come down. The dolie-bearers simply dumped the people they were carrying and ran away when they got the word on flood.

She was witness to hundreds of bodies both human (including children) and animal float by while she was on the tree. She was afraid of getting off the tree as the entire area was covered with slush that was several feet deep. On the third day a rope ladder was lowered down to her from a chopper. The helicopter crew told her that she should hold the ladder with both hands and that they would pull her up. The helicopter crew rescued her from the tree and dropped her in Nana village.

After giving her some first aid she was asked to fend for herself.

Language was a big problem and she had no way telling the relief workers her needs. Ms. Annapurna, who is quite angry with the relief work, said “nobody cared about the Telugus, they were showing more concern for Tamilians and Kannadigas.” Those who knew Hindi had an advantage, she added. From Nana village she along with a few other Telugus hitched a ride in a car to Haridwar. The car was empty because the owner-cum-driver had lost his entire family in the floods.

In Haridwar the situation was really bad with people paying Rs.200 for a biscuit packet and Rs.1,000 for a plate of rice and some curry.

The journey from Haridwar to New Delhi was also expensive and strenuous. By the time Ms. Annapurna reached the A.P. Bhavan, she was very weak and sick. She purchased an air ticket with the money she had and reached Hyderabad to her relatives’ house. She was lucky to have kept all her money with her. There is no way of recovering the luggage her group left in a bus at Gowrikund.

Nobody cared about Telugus at relief camps, says Annapurna, who was rescued by a helicopter from a tree



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