Desperate families of people still missing in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand have started placing advertisements announcing cash rewards ranging from Rs. 2-5 lakh for information.
Regional newspapers are being flooded with such advertisements at a time when the government says nearly 3,000 people are missing. Several organisations tracking the disaster in the hill state are, however, providing higher figures.
Bhagwan Singh, a businessman from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, has published an advertisement declaring Rs. 5 lakh reward for information about his seven missing family members, including his parents and brother.
He last spoke to them on June 16, when they were in Rambada near Kedarnath. "I rushed to Dehradun after I came to know about the flash floods," he said. "I requested the government to take me to Rambada so that I could search for my family members, but no one heard my plea," he said on Thursday.
Many others who have published similar advertisements also complained there was little information or assurance from the state government on their missing relatives.
Rahul Singh, a banker and resident of Amreli district in Gujarat, is ready to give Rs. 2 lakh to anyone who can trace his parents who went missing from Kedarnath.
"My parents had wanted to visit Char Dham for long. We never anticipated the journey would become a nightmare."
He visited hospitals, approached the police and officials, but found their response not very forthcoming.
Flash floods and landslides following rain on June 15-16 killed nearly 1,000 people and left thousands stranded, many of whom were evacuated to safety in one of the biggest rescue operations - spread over 15 days - mounted in India.
The state government has opened a disaster helpline at the Police Line here to assist the families of the missing people. While pictures of missing persons are displayed at the helpline, the government has also started a Facebook page for sharing information.