Even a month after the flash floods in Uttarakhand,many in Delhi continue with their relentless search for their loved ones. With Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna announcing that the missing would not be officially declared dead,several people are going back to Uttarakhand to get information about their missing kin,while others stay put in Delhi,hoping for a miracle.
Sudarshan Pandey,an advocate from Bhajanpura in Northeast Delhi,was in Uttarakhand on Monday,doing the rounds of hospitals and police stations. He has been searching for his wife,his 11-year-old son,his mother-in-law,and three of his wifes relatives. Immediately after the floods,I stayed here for a week. Now,I have come back because I feel there is a fleeting chance that at least one of them might have come down here,and is not in a mental state to identify himself, Pandey told Newsline from Rishikesh.
He said he had last spoken to his 39-year-old wife Poonam on June 15,exactly a month ago,when she was near the Kedarnath shrine,but could not speak to his son. Now,he moves from one place to another,speaking to whoever he can and putting up photographs of his family members everywhere. He has registered missing persons complaints in Delhi,Dehradun and Rishikesh.
Suman Bisht,from Sagarpur in West Delhi is on his third trip to Uttarakhand to look for his 26-year-old sister Veena,his father Kunwar Singh and grandmother Radha Devi.
Speaking to Newsline from Pauri,about 150 km from Dehradun,he says,Until I have some definite news,I have to keep going on. I have heard police are taking DNA samples to identify those who have died. If I dont find them,I will give my blood samples.
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Siyaram Gupta,who runs a steel shop near Rohini,spent three days after the floods looking for his 30-year-old son Lokesh,his daughter-in-law Dimple (28),his one year-old granddaughter Kannan and Dimples parents. I looked through the lists put out at the airbases,went to the hospitals in Dehradun and Rishikesh and registered missing complaints everywhere. Now,I just sit in my shop and wait for Lokesh to call, the distraught father said. He had last heard from his son on June 15,when they were in Gaurikund.
Ashish Kemani (27),from Sarojini Nagar,is waiting for six family members his 63-year-old father,his uncles,their wives and his grandmother to return. He has gone to Dehradun twice,but returned empty handed. Some people would squint at the pictures and recall seeing my relatives… but there was nothing definitive. I cannot accept they are no more. I keep waiting for my father to walk through the door,Ashish,says,tears welling up in his eyes.
Then there are entire families that have gone missing,with no one in Delhi to look for them. So relatives from other cities have taken up the task. Ashok Sharma,his wife and their two children last spoke to their family in Jodhpur on June 13,when they were commencing their journey to Kedarnath. Speaking from Jodhpur Ashoks niece Priyanka says,We tracked their last traceable location to Kedarnath on the morning of June 15. We have not heard from them since.
There are others,who still hope for their loved ones to return. At the same time,they are conducting prayer meetings for their missing kin. Pooja Lamba Cheema,a Delhi-based writer,held a prayer meeting for her missing parents last week in Delhi.
My parents and my aunt have been missing from Kedarnath for a month. My cousins already held a prayer meeting about 10 days back,but I held back. But I realised it does not end hope,just helps us bring a sense of closure,and some peace, she says.