Saturday was a day of great relief for families of about 95 pilgrims from Pune district who returned home but for the families of over 220 who are still stranded in flood-hit Uttarakhand,the wait seems unending.
According to the data released by the District Collectorate,as many as 321 persons,118 of them women,from Pune district were caught in the flash floods that engulfed northern states of India.
On Thursday night,a group returned to Pune by air. On Saturday,over 90 pilgrims returned on the Nizamuddin-Vasco Goa Express. The rest,according to the officials,are in different stages of rescue work while several dozen pilgrims from the district are still untraceable.
On Saturday,there were scores of families who flocked Pune station hoping to get information about their kin still stranded in Uttarakhand,from the people who returned.
Dayachand Kesri was among those who had come to the railway station hoping for a miracle and seeing his relatives deboarding. My father and mother are stranded somewhere near Gaurikund. The last time we had telephonic contact was on June 19. After that the battery of the cellphone went dead. During our last conversation they told us they were struck in a jungle and there was no help coming. We are worried and helpless. I have been trying the helpline a million times but cant get through. I dont know what will happen to them, said Kesri.
He said that his parents (father Nandlal Kesri and mother Rukmina Devi) were on their first tour to the holy land. We never dreamed that such a thing will happen to them, said Kesri,visibly dismayed after he went coach to coach showing the photograph of his father on the mobile phone and inquiring if anybody had seen him.
I want to go there but my other relatives are stopping me saying they dont want to risk another member getting caught in the horror, he said.
The uncle and aunt of Sandip Dalvi,a resident of Katraj,are among those whose whereabouts were not known.
I came here to check if they are part of the group which returned today. They are not there. They left Pune on June 13. We lost contact with them on June 16. We could contact a few pilgrims who accompanied them from the city. However,they hadnt a clue about them. We have kept our fingers crossed, said Dalvi.
Nigdi woman dies of stroke
Asha Kate,a 58-year-old woman from Yamunanagar in Nigdi,a member of a group of 40 pilgrims couldnt make it back to the city. During the groups stay in Rudraprayag,Kate suffered a massive heart stroke. Her husband Yashwant Kate,however,returned safe.
According to him,their group visited Uttarkashi,Gangotri,Kirtinagar,Kedarnath and Rudraprayag and were on their way to Badrinath when calamity stuck. We decided to turn back. In Rudraprayag,my wife suffered a heartstroke. I communicated that to my family who advised me to perform the last rites in Rudraprayag, he said.