Not all men can stand in the test of adversity, feels Sonu Kumar, a resident of Kundari, who is one of the lucky few who managed to return safely from rain-ravaged Uttarakhand.
On reaching Lucknow, Kumar, like may others was all praise for the undying efforts put in by the Indian Army to rescue the stranded pilgrims. He, however, expressed discontent with the behaviour of locals, blaming them of making a profit out of their sufferings. “I have no hesitation in saying that the Uttarakhand locals were trying to make a profit when we were suffering. They sold a packet of biscuit at Rs 150. Hard pressed, we had to purchase it, because we had to families to feed,” Kumar said. A visibly angry Kumar pledged not to return to Uttarakhand again. “The state thrives on tourism and even then the locals could not stop themselves from fleecing pilgrims,” he added.
Like Kumar, Deepak Nigam (42), resident of Kundari Rakabganj, expressed dissatisfaction about the behaviour of few locals. “The Army officials had a hard time trying to control hooligans from going berserk,” he said. Nigam, who had gone for the Chaar Dham yatra along with his wife Rashmi and two daughters were in Gaurikund when the disaster struck. “We are back from the jaws of death. The rain was so heavy that we were left clueless. Our bus driver had gone missing, so we had to hire a SUV, but after travelling some distance we found that the road was washed away. Many hapless families were stuck at this spot, and instead of extending a helping hand locals were busy robbing pilgrims,” Deepak added.
While horror tales are a galore, for many the wait still continues. Durga Prasad Tewari, a resident of Dubagga, had spoken to his brother and maternal uncle last on June 18. Since then the family has only been praying for their safe return.