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'Locked down' baraat returns to Himachal Pradesh from West Bengal after 56 days

Kumar's marriage with Sanjogita was solemnised as per schedule at Kashipur village in West Bengal's Purulia district on March 25, the day when the first phase of the nationwide lockdown began.

Published: 20th May 2020 02:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2020 02:16 PM   |  A+A-

Wedding, marriage

For representational purposes

By PTI

SHIMLA: A marriage party returned to Himachal Pradesh from West Bengal after 56 days as it had remained stranded there due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Bridegroom Sunil Kumar (30) said the 17-member "baraat" boarded the Kolkata-bound Gurmukhi Superfast Express train at the Nangal Dam railway station in Rupnagar district of Punjab on March 21.

When they reached Kolkata the next day, March 22, the country was observing a 'janata curfew' on the appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

Kumar's marriage with Sanjogita was solemnised as per schedule at Kashipur village in West Bengal's Purulia district on March 25, the day when the first phase of the nationwide lockdown began.

The party, along with the bride, was set to begin its return journey on March 26 and had already booked the tickets.

But a complete lockdown, including suspension of rail services, meant that it had to stay put at a dharamshala for the next over 50 days.

Kumar's in-laws made arrangements for their stay at the Kashipur dharamshala, providing every possible help, he said.

"We contacted West Bengal helpline numbers but to no avail. Then, we contacted Himachal Pradesh minister Virender Kanwar who made available dry ration for us," Kumar, an electrician, said.

The ordeal ended on May 14 when the "baraat" boarded a bus at Malda for Himachal Pradesh after getting e-passes from the state government.

The bus had brought some Malda residents from Solan district.

On their way back to Himachal Pradesh, the travellers cooked food themselves while covering the over 1,850-km journey in about 55 hours.

"It seems as if we are back to heaven," Kumar told PTI on phone from a quarantine centre at a hotel in Bador in Una district.

The 18 members, including bride Sanjogita Kumari Mandal, have been placed under quarantine in a hall in the hotel, just five kilometres away from their Proyian Kalan village in Bangana tehsil.

"My father, three sisters, a maternal aunt, four kids and other close relatives were part of the baraat. Most of them say they will never forget this extraordinary marriage."

"My mother Raj Kumari did not go to West Bengal. I could not see her even after my return to Himachal Pradesh after eight weeks due to fear of the virus. I want to see her from a distance if possible," he said.

"Our samples will be taken for testing for coronavirus in the next few days and we will be allowed to go home after 14 days in quarantine," Kumar said.

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