‘Help came after 3 hrs’
Nagendra Kumar, a small-time merchant from Kunnool district of Andhra Pradesh, was really happy this time. A regular at Sabarimala for last many years, last year he couldn’t see ‘makara jyoti’ (believed to be a celestial light that flickers thrice in the sky on makara sankranti day) due to rampaging clouds.india Updated: Jan 15, 2011 23:29 IST
Nagendra Kumar, a small-time merchant from Kunnool district of Andhra Pradesh, was really happy this time. A regular at Sabarimala for last many years, last year he couldn’t see ‘makara jyoti’ (believed to be a celestial light that flickers thrice in the sky on makara sankranti day) due to rampaging clouds. This time it was crystal clear. However his joy was short lived. Of his 40-member team three succumbed to the tragedy.
“We were camping at Pullumedu, a convenient hill top to watch jyoti for two days. After ‘jyoti’ we came down to the hill. It was pitch dark. Some of the pilgrims were in hurry to get back to their vehicles parked many miles away. Elders advised hurrying youth to be careful. But their pleas fell on deaf ears."
“When I was about to reach the narrow pathway, swamis (as devotees are known) started tumbling down on me. Some of them fell like big rocks. In the melee I got separated from my group. Initially I thought that wild elephant herd attacked some of us (We heard it is one of the favorite resting places of herds). I fell twice in the rush but managed to get up before getting trampled. Most them weren’t sure what really happened. People started running helter skelter. Soon helpless wails rented the air."
“Luckily I got a wooden pole and caught it tightly. In the melee I managed to pull out at least three, including an 8-year-old who was badly injured. Sadly, he later succumbed. Help came almost three hours after the incident. Some of the swamis and locals soon regained composure and started herding the injured. They also successfully prevented further inflow from hilltop. If it was not happened tragedy would have been more dreadful. We spent almost three hours in the midst of dead and injured before help came."
“There were only two-dozen cops to control more than two lakh pilgrims. If effective policing and control were there many lives would have been saved. Kerala gets lakhs of pilgrims from other states but it hardly does anything to protect them. It is sad indeed.”
Undergone a terrible nightmare will he make it to the next season.
“It is our faith. Lord Ayyappa (presiding deity) saved me. I am indebted to the Lord my whole lifetime. Of course I”ll be back next time. But I pray things would improve (basic necessities) at least next time.” Anyone listening?
First Published: Jan 15, 2011 19:20 IST