Amritsar, Punjab: Over 4,000 Sikh pilgrims remain stuck in Ghangaria village, the last stopover on way to Hemkunt Sahib gurdwara in Uttarakhand, where heavy rain and landslides have wreaked havoc over the past few days.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said most of the pilgrims were from Punjab and Delhi. The Punjab government and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) have joined the rescue mission. Shiromani Akali Dal spokesman Daljeet Cheema said over 6,200 Sikh pilgrims were stranded in Uttarakhand and over 2,000 were rescued early on Wednesday.
Both the SGPC and the DSGMC have dispatched relief materials to Ghangaria, while the Punjab government has hired a 22-seater private helicopter to airlift the pilgrims.
The state government has constituted a four-member team of senior IAS officers, led by K S Pannu, which has left for Dehradun to monitor the rescue operation. Food packets were being dispatched from the community kitchens of Paonta Sahib gurdwara in Himachal Pradesh to the relief camp set up by the government near Rishikesh.
DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK said they had sent medicines and blankets to devotees stranded at Ghangaria. “We have completed all the formalities for hiring a helicopter and are now waiting for permission from the government,” he said. “Hopefully, we will begin lifting stranded devotees from tomorrow.” He said the devotees would be airlifted from Ghangaria to Joshimath.
The SGPC has already sent a 10-member medical team, including five doctors, to the areas where Sikhs are stranded in Uttarakhand. SGPC additional secretary DS Bedi said the committee had also dispatched two truckloads of rations and other relief material from Amritsar and Sri Anandpur Sahib. “Truckloads of ration will also be dispatched from the Kurukshetra, Jind, Nada Sahib and other gurdwaras,” said Bedi.