Kedarnath: A strike left thousands dead
Bangalore, June 24: In a week-long disaster that is still continuing to create mayhem in Uttarakhand, the calamity was not just nature-made. In an incident on June 13 and 14, that would perhaps leave the locals scarred for life, a strike was called by the mule owners and the porters over a dispute with the helicopter owners. This in turn, left thousands of pilgrims stranded. Mayhem followed the next two days, killing thousands and washing away even more.
Although official reports suggest that there were about a hundred killed, private sources deny saying that the figures might be frightening.
"We are not sure of the number of people who have died in the rains but for sure the numbers are much higher as more than 15,000 people are reported missing," a senior official said. Of course, one can imagine the numbers rising by the fact that over 250 government hotels, dharmashalas, hotels and lodges, including shops have been washed away by the flash floods.
IF we go by the official records, more than 13,000 people were there at Kedarnath at that particular point. If 1,000 were evacuated from the region, there is no room for imagination what happened to the rest 12,000. With 380 mm of rainfall, 450 percent more than the usual rainfall in the region, officials fear the worse.
"Kedarnath is one of the most revered shrines in North India and lakhs visit the place every year. In fact, there are 700 to 1,000 people at Ram Bada alone at any given point," says a Kedarnath official. All that can be seen now is debris and bodies strewen everywhere.
The mass death could have been avoided had the locals resolved the issue when the administrative officials offered to do so. But,they were reluctant to concede to the terms and did not even lets helicopters land.
An incident that has left us in shame and aghast, wishing that this had not happened in the first place.