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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

Death, devastation and a marriage: Uttarakhand disaster survivor ties the knot

Radhika Nagrath, Hindustan Times  Haridwar, July 12, 2013
First Published: 00:17 IST(12/7/2013) | Last Updated: 14:49 IST(12/7/2013)
Lakshman Negi married his fiancée in a simple ceremony on Thursday. The Uttarakhand resident could not help feeling blessed, in more ways than one.
 
Between June 16 and 19, the tourism professional saw two co-workers being washed away and bodies piling up outside the gate of the famous Kedarnath shrine. All this time, he desperately clung to a wire barricade on the higher levels of the shrine’s compound, watching the devastation unfold.
 
“Lord Kedar (Shiva) saved me in the temple, while two of my associates were washed away in front of my eyes,” the 37-year-old manager of the Uttarakhand tourism department bungalow near the shrine said after marrying Shankuntala Gosain of Dehradun.
 
The marriage was conducted in accordance with Vedic rituals at Shantikunj in Haridwar.
 
Recalling the flood fury and horror, Negi said he was in the tourist bungalow when he heard a loud thunderclap, “as if a glacier had burst”, around 4.30pm June 16.
 
“We rushed to the temple, but people started drowning. I climbed onto a higher level in the shrine compound and spent the night. The next day more water gushed in, with the Gandhi Sarovar barricade giving way amid heavy rain. For two days I remained on top, holding the wire barricade and saw 40 to 50 bodies piling up.”
 
Negi’s ordeal ended on June 19, just as he was near breaking point — starving and struggling with an injured leg. “I was rescued by an army helicopter.”
 
Negi, who is from Srinagar city in Garhwal hills, was taken to Guptkashi and admitted to hospital at Agastyamuni.
 
June 16 will forever be etched in his memory, again in more ways than one. The same day, his father had come to Shantikunj to finalise the booking for his marriage.
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