Ever since he saw his 14-year- old daughter slipping from a hill and getting washed away by flash floods while returning from Kedarnath a fortnight, city resident Suraj Kumar Jaiswal continues to be haunted by the tragic incident, and possibly would be tormented for the rest of his life.
"I stood helpless and still as I watched my younger daughter Damini struggling for life and then gradually fading away from my sight. The only solace I got was that I was able to retrieve her body," said Suraj while narrating his tale of woes durign the Uttarakhand flash floods.
Suraj had gone for a pilgrimage with his wife and two daughters to Kedarnath. "It was around 5am on June 16 that we started our return journey from Kedarnath. As we reached Ram Barra, flash flood occurred and much of the area was swept away. As the bridge was also damaged, the pilgrims that included my family started climbing a hill to take an alternate route."
"After walking for 5-7 km, when my younger daughter felt uneasy, we decided to climb down a bit. Suddenly, my daughter slipped and fell 50 feet on the road. This happened in an area called Jungle Chatti. Her head hit a rock and she died on the spot," Jaiswal reminisced.
"It was a horrible scene and I can't forget it. With no arrangements or resources to cremate the body, we had no option but to immerse the body in water. It was very painful moment for us," he said.
Stressing that there was no help from the government officials for people stuck in the area, the family mentioned that they starved and even slept in the open for a couple of days to remain safe.
"We even met a person who demanded Rs 3,000 from each pilgrim to show us a safe passage. This infuriated the pilgrims after which that person ran away," Jaiswal said.
The family has demanded compensation by the Uttrakhand government.