A 54-year-old bespectacled man sits in a corner of a stuffy room in South Delhis Khanpur Extension. Preoccupied,sifting through a sea of papers surrounding him,he spares a few seconds to look up at the television playing the daily bulletin. He makes a note of something on one paper and strikes out something on another.
His mobile phone,always plugged to a charger,is positioned to receive a full signal.
Every phone call and doorbell brings hope hope to recieve some news about my parents and my relatives who left for Kedarnath on June 8 and have been missing for more than 20 days now, says Yogesh Sharma. Twenty-nine members of Sharmas family are still missing since the tragedy struck Uttarakhand on June 16.
On June 15,they started the trek to Kedarnath and were supposed to return on June 16. I spoke to them last on the day they had reached Gaurikund. They told me that they would be leaving for Kedarnath the next morning. Since then I have not heard any news of them. I never switch the television off and look closely whenever they show the visuals of Uttarakhand,hoping that I would spot them somewhere in the background, Sharma says.
Sharma has not gone to work for the last 20 days. Now,his day starts much earlier than usual,with him scrutinising newspapers,news channels and Disaster Management websites to keep himself updated on the situation in Uttarakhand. He constantly rings up people in Dehradun and Guptkashi for any leads on his family.
He has prepared a list of the names of all the missing family members,along with their mug shots and has distributed it to agencies that are involved with the rescue operations.
He has also intimated the Indo-Tibetan Border Police,Dehradun Control room,Disaster Management Authority,Delhi Government and the police about his missing family members,providing them with all the necessary details. He has distributed the mug shots among local residents of Dehradun and Guptkashi,besides putting up the information on Facebook.
Delhi Disaster Management chief Dharam Pal said the agency had received more than 300 calls in the last 10 days. The Delhi team was coordinating with their counterpart in Uttarakhand to trace the missing. So far,Dharam Pal said,91 people from Delhi had been rescued,while 213 were still untraceable.
A week after the tragedy struck Uttarakhand,18 persons from Sharmas family went up to Guptkashi,Rishikesh,Dehradun and Gochan in search of their lost relatives. They showed the mug shots of their relatives to people who were rescued from the valley and had returned home safely.
Some people told us that they had seen my parents and relatives,and that they were fine. This is our last hope. We stayed in Uttarakhand for over 10 days,walking around with their photos,but could not find them. We returned empty handed, Sharma says. But,since we were told that our relatives were safe,there is still hope. I am sure that they will return, he says.