Family of two missing US-based Hemkunt Sahib pilgrims move FBI
They are missing since July 6; family rejects Uttrakhand Police claim that the pilgrims met with an accident.punjab Updated: Sep 13, 2017 22:17 IST
Kin of two US-based Sikhs who, along with six other people, went missing during the Hemkunt Sahib pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, have approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), intelligence agency of the US, seeking its intervention to know the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Eight pilgrims went missing on July 6 this year while returning from the Sikh shrine. The missing pilgrims included two Sikh US citizens, Harkewal Singh and Premjit Singh. Others were Kirpal Singh, Jasbir Singh, Kulbir Singh, driver Mehnga Singh all from Chowk Mehta area in Amritsar and Harpal Singh, Varinder Singh from Dalla village in Gurdaspur.
Premjit, 63, and his son-in-law Harkewal, 38, lived in Sacramento in California state. Uttrakhand Police and a team from Punjab carried out search operation for many days. A week later, the Uttarakhand government claimed that the pilgrims met with an accident.
“The authorities of the Gobind Ghat gurdwara, which is on the way to the shrine, are saying that the vehicle may have plunged into Alaknanda River. However, till today, they have not provided any satisfactory proof,” said Manjit Kaur, wife of Harkewal, while speaking to HT over phone from Sacramento.
“The only evidence they found was a Toyota logo of the SUV they were travelling in, two window visors, rear light and one long old rubber piece. These can be of any vehicle. Families have confirmed that the turban that the administration found from the site did not belong to any of the eight pilgrims. The turbans looked too old and all torn,” she said.
Manjit said she tried to establish a contact with the authorities in Uttarakhand, Amritsar and the US embassy since July 8, but they have not been able to provide much help.
“I have urged Uttarakhand Police to provide CCTV footage of the area, but to no avail. So, I have moved to the FBI seeking its intervention,” she added.
In a message to Manjit on August 30, the US embassy said the search was still on. “But due to fast water current, the local police are only able to search the banks of the river... we will contact you immediately as soon as we hear anything new,” reads the reply.