Sahnewal, Ludhiana: It was a real home coming for seven friends who returned yesterday on the ninth day after facing a brush with death for 72 hours.
Gurvir Singh of Sahnewal, one of the rescuers, narrated the tale of horror to this correspondent.
“I and my six friends were elated at having the darshan of Hemkunt Sahib when we left for home on the evening of June 14. As we reached Gobind Ghat the next day, it started drizzling in the evening. We enjoyed the rain as we did not have the slightest inclination of what was going to happen. We got up comfortably and started for Gobind Dham in the morning. We were still 5 km away from Gobind Dham when we were told by the returning sangat that a bridge had flooded and it was no point going ahead. As we were bent on having the darshan of Gurus, we refused to return and kept on moving. We heard cries around and decided to move back. We bowed our heads from there only and moved back. Within a few hours, these cries became as horrific as one could ever imagine,” said Gurvir.
He said: “We reached our hotel that we had left at Gobind Ghat. We could not even sleep after seeing the scene at the langar hall of the nearby gurdwara where people were crying for their near and dear ones because half of them had been drifted by the waves downwards, while others were still hanging above. As we tried to sleep, the forceful waves drifted our beds inside our hotel room. In no time, the receptionist of the hotel sounded a warning that the vehicles be brought to the upward parking as the flood had arrived. As my friends, Riki, Rittu and Sandeep, went to park our two cars in the parking, which was at a good height, I, Gurpeet, Jaspal and Gurpal saw a tempo traveller, filled with sangat, coming down with the flood”.
Gurvir said: “The water began to rise and there is no question about delaying any more. As we took out our cars from the parking lot, we saw at least 35 to 40 vehicles drowning at the same time. We began at 3 AM and reached the gates of Gobind Dham at half past three. We started for Joshi Math and travelled with half way missing and only a part of it really visible. As we headed towards Chanoli, which is 12 km from Joshi Math, we noticed that at least 200m of the road has been washed away. We were stranded at the place as there was now no road ahead. There, we saw one of the most horrific scenes of our lives. We saw six friends on five bikes coming downhill from a distance when a big rock fell on them throwing one of them into a deep gorge and crushing four others. Their bodies were taken out by the Army, but had to be handed over to the police till the traffic was allowed to move on. It was shameful that the police failed to arrive for nearly 30 hours, and when it did, it did not touch the bodies; instead asking the people to pick up the bodies”.
“The road to Karanprayag was finally cleared, from where we reached Rudraprayag. We spent the night at Pauri and reached Rishikesh the next day (June 19). There was simply no hope. It is all because of the Almighty that we came out of the ordeal. I love horror stories, but certainly not the real ones,” said Gurvir.
Source: The Tribune