A group of senior citizens, which returned to the city on Tuesday morning, said that they had a narrow escape while on their way to Gangotri. Sudesh Makkar, the 62-year-old woman, recalled the situation she faced in Uttarakhand.
“It is only because of the villagers’ humanity that saved us,” said Makkar. The resident of Gurgaon’s Sector 7, along with her four friends, had left for the pilgrimage on June 12 in an Innova car. She was among the 50,000 people left stranded in the flood-ravaged state.
For Makkar, who often goes on pilgrimages, this trip was a different experience altogether. “The villagers of Burari helped us a lot. From small children to senior citizens all of them made sure we had food and kept ourselves hydrated,” said Makkar. Burari is located about 40 kms from Gangotri.
Makkar and her friends had first gone to Yamunotri and were on their way to Gangotri when the disaster took place. She had to leave two hotels as one of them asked all the occupants to evacuate, while the other was demanding money.
“We didn’t have money as it all got over in purchasing food and water. The second hotel had asked each of us to deposit Rs 500 per night, which we couldn’t pay at all,” she said.
Finally after two days, they checked in a hotel near Gangotri, where the owner let them stay free of cost.
“The owner, a crippled man, cooked for us. He made rotis and boiled potatoes for us. That’s all we ate there as we couldn’t get the dry food that was being dropped from the helicopters. We survived on biscuits and bread,” she added.
The two sleepless nights that she spent at this hotel was accompanied by thunderstorms and immense fear.
“We could see Ganga gushing ferociously. We even heard that a senior citizen and a child drowned in it. Many hotels shut down as the water entered into them. Showing kind gesture to us, the hotel owner shifted us to the extreme top floor. About 50 people were cramped up in one single room,” recalled Makkar, who saw buses and cars being washed away by the flood water.
On Monday evening, Makkar and her friends were transported from the hotel to the helipad in a military bus. “After reaching the helipad, we had to wait for our turn to get into the helicopter. At 10.30 am, the army personnel told us that it was our turn now.” But the trouble didn’t end there.
After the helicopter ride, a six-hour-long bus ride to Rishikesh was awaiting Makkar. That’s where her son, Jatin, was waiting for her.
“My son had spent two days at the Dehradun airport, but when he got to know I will be reaching Rishikesh, he drove down,” said Makkar.
“It’s beyond my imagination that people could be so kind —the villagers of Burari, the crippled hotel owner and the army personnel. They attended to the victims purely on the basis of emergency and genuineness.”