The Sikh pilgrims who reached here on Friday from the flood-ravaged areas around the Sikh shrine of Hemkunt Sahib in Uttarakhand praised the Army and the ITBP personnel for their rescue services.
The pilgrims, who shared their harrowing experiences after the flood and landslides in Uttarakhand, were brought back here on 20 state-owned buses.
Another 150 buses have been sent by the state government equipped with state police personnel and jawans.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who cut short his UK visit and arrived here on Friday morning, received the pilgrims at the Sector 43 bus terminal here. The terrified people alighted from the buses after a seven-hour-long journey from Rishikesh. Later, the pilgrims had ‘langar’ (community food) served at the bus terminal by the Akali Dal.
Rinkoo Singh of Mansa, who had gone to Rishikesh with nine people, said:
“We paid our obeisance at the Hemkhund Sahib Gurdwara on Sunday and started back to Govind Gath gurdwara. We saw the cloud burst and water rushing in the river; as we are young all of us started running; nobody from our group met a fatal end.” “We saw people falling into the gushing river. We got panicky and ran six kilometres to reach Govind Gath, again we ran for another 13 kilometres to Govind Dham Gurdwara to get our hired taxi, but the vehicles parked were washed away,” he said.
“The ITBP jawans rescued us and for three days we stayed at their camp. They gave us medicines, food and clothes as we have lost our money and belongings in the flood. Later, we were brought to Rishikesh in their buses,” he added.
Meanwhile, most of the pilgrims lambasted the Uttarakhand Government alleging that the government had not provided any help. A bottle of water was being charged `100 instead of its original price Rs 10, a chapatti or paratha for `60 and rice was sold at Rs 100.