More than a year after 4,000 people were swept away by flash floods in the Mandakini in Kedarnath, a 10-year-old girl who says she survived the deluge was rescued by police as she wandered all alone in the small hill town of Chamba in Tehri district.
The girl was rescued by the Chamba police after locals saw her begging for food at a hotel in the town. She told the police that her parents and other family members were washed away by the river, but was unable to recall the name of her village.
The girl said apart from her parents, brother and sister, her uncle and his entire family had also been washed away in the river. She told the police her father’s name was Chiranji, and that he was a porter.
Ram Singh Meena, Additional Director-General of Police (law and order) said, “The girl might be from Rambara, Gaurikund, or, Gaurigaon, as these are the only villages in the proximity of Kedarnath. We have instructed the Rudraprayag Superintendent of Police to investigate and verify whether the girl belonged to the Kedar Valley area.”
But from her dialect, she did not appear to be a Kedar Valley native, Mr. Meena said, adding that her family might have migrated to the region in search of work.
Questioned by the SHO of Chamba police station, S.P. Singh, the girl said she had been rescued from the floods by the Army and dropped at Haridwar. A family had then taken her from Haridwar to Meerut, but she said she ran away back to Haridwar as they beat her and otherwise ill-treated her.
A scrap dealer, Ajay, who saw her wandering in Haridwar, took her to his village in Tehri. The girl lived with Ajay and his family in Koti village for around four months, but ran away to Chamba few days back after what she called a quarrel with the family.
She was seen and reported to the police by Chamba townspeople on Tuesday. Mr. Meena said the girl would be sent to Dehradun and would be taken care of by the Child Welfare Association, here. Investigations would continue, he said, to trace the girl’s village.