Though chances of the survival of the missing pilgrims in the Kullu bus tragedy are bleak, the Punjab government is still undecided on the compensation to the kin of those missing after the accident. Their kin, however, are still praying for a miracle to happen 18 days after the accident and hoping that they might see them alive.
The Punjab government took no time to announce ex-gratia of `1 lakh to the next of the kin of those killed in the accident, but they are yet to decide over either to compensate the families of missing persons at the moment or not.
Moreover, the government is now eying upon the Himachal Pradesh government's decision to either continue the rescue operation any further or not.
However, till date, only 10 families of the persons, whose bodies were recovered, have been provided with compensation amount in Bathinda and Mansa districts.
It should be mentioned that the private bus carrying 69 pilgrims to Manikaran mainly from different areas of Punjab, plunged into the soaring Parbati river on July 23, after it skidded off the road on its way to the Sikh shrine of Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh.
As per available information, 35 passengers were from Bathinda district, of which six suffered multiple injuries, while bodies of eight people were fished out following the incident. As many as 11 pilgrims were from Jaga Ram Tirath village near Talwandi Sabo.
Moreover, of the 12 people from Mansa district mainly from Joga village, the bodies of only two have been recovered so far.
Ironically, tall claims of the state government to give full support to assist the HP government in the rescue operation turned out futile, as it has failed to deploy any single official in Kullu to coordinate with the affected families.
Indeed, the family members of 20 missing people have been camping in Kullu for the past several days.
Bathinda deputy commissioner Basant Garg said the Himachal Pradesh government is still carrying out the rescue operation so, the kin of only those declared dead and identified were given the ex-gratia amount.
"We have compensated the families as per the compensation policy of the state government. The government will announce ex-gratia for those missing only after the HP government called off the operation and declares the missing people as dead," Garg said.
As of now, the rescue and search operations are on in Kullu, he added.
Memorial services performed,but families still hopeful
Though the families of missing people had already performed their memorial services, yet they are still hopeful of their survival.
Gursewak Singh from Joga village, whose 19-year-old son Manpreet Singh, is missing, has been camping in a local gurdwara in Kullu hoping for a miracle to happen.
"We can only pray for some miracle to happen and can't leave our son here," said Gursewak over phone from Kullu.
The HP government has explored all resources and even called the navy personnel to trace out the bus and the missing people, but to no avail as 33 pilgrims are still missing.