Manpreet Singh of Joga village in Mansa district of Punjab was the only breadwinner of the family of four, including his father, a younger sister and a brother. Manpreet, who is still missing, was onboard the ill-fated private bus that plunged into the Parvati river in the Manikaran valley of Kullu district on July 23.
Hoping against hope, Manpreet's cousin Gurjeet Singh is still camping in Kullu. Talking to HT, Gurjeet said Manpreet was the only hope for his elderly father Bhola Singh and his younger sister and visually impaired brother. He said the accident had shattered the family.
There were 69 persons onboard the bus when it met with an accident. A total of 12 bodies have been recovered so far and 34 pilgrims are still missing.
Chamkar Singh, also of Joga village, is camping in Kullu in hope that his missing brother-in-law Gurmeet Singh and nephew Sukha Singh will be traced.
A similar accident took place at Tauk village near Manikaran on September 7, 2002, when a private bus carrying 56 pilgrims plunged into the Parvati river when it was on its way back from Brahm Ganga, a religious place in the valley. The bodies of 39 pilgrims were never traced. The victims were residents of Lug Valley in Kullu district. The wreckage of the bus was also not found.
Navy team to search bodies
A 12-member team of the navy would start a search operation to trace the 34 pilgrims missing in the bus accident. Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said the team had reached Kullu and would start the search operation between the accident site and the Larji dam soon.
The team includes expert divers and is equipped with hand-held and side sonars, two rubberised boats along with other equipment. Two hydrographers are also part of the team.
The Himachal government had requested deployment of navy personnel to trace the missing pilgrims underwater, as the turbulent and muddy river water was a major hindrance.