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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Uttarakhand: people spend lakhs on ads to find kin

Nihi Sharma Sahani, Hindustan Times  Dehradun, July 04, 2013
First Published: 12:17 IST(4/7/2013) | Last Updated: 16:54 IST(4/7/2013)

Family members of persons still missing in the Uttarakhand flash floods tragedy have put out advertisements in regional newspapers announcing cash rewards of Rs. 4-5 lakh for any leads on them, after getting little information or assurance from the state government.

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Bhagwan Singh, an agro businessman from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, had last talked to his family members when the latter were in Rambada. Since then, he has had no contact with them.

"I rushed to Dehradun after I came to know about the flash floods," Bhagwan Singh said. "I requested the government to take me to Rambada near Kedarnath so that I could search for my family members, but no one heard my pleas."
 
Bhagwan Singh has now published an ad declaring Rs. 5 lakh reward to anyone, who can provide information about his seven missing family members, including his parents and brother.

"I don't think the Uttarakhand government is making any efforts in searching for missing family members," he said. "That's why I have declared the prize money. I am sure it will work."
 
Several others have also published similar ads. Rahul Singh, a banker and resident of Amreli district in Gujarat, is ready to give Rs. 1 lakh to anyone who can trace his parents, who went missing from Kedarnath.

"My parents wanted to visit Char Dham since a long time, and this year they got the opportunity," Rahul Singh said. "We could never have anticipated that the journey would become a nightmare." He visited all the hospitals, including the ones in Dehradun, and approached the police station and officials concerned, but got no positive reply.

The government has opened a disaster helpline at Police Line here to assist families of missing persons. While pictures of missing persons are displayed at the helpline, the government has also started a Facebook page for sharing information on them.
 
Figures of missing persons provided by various organisations are disputed. The state government maintains that 3,000 people are missing, but an independent survey puts this figure at 4,000.

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