| Kedarnath after the 2013 deluge and Ashwini Kumar Choubey |
Buxar MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey said he was more a peeved victim of last year’s flash floods and not a politician thanks to the “mishandling” of the tragedy by the Uttarakhand and then central government.
Recounting the horror in which he was also stuck with his family members, security guards and priest Dinesh Chandra Jha at Kedarnath, Choubey said: “What we went through last year would remain permanently etched in our minds and keep haunting us forever. Of course it was natural fury at its best but the saddest part was how then Vijay Bahuguna-led government totally messed it up. Not only did they fail to take precautionary measures despite meteorological predictions, they tried to hide facts too. The toll was also grossly under reported.”
Speaking of the horror he experienced and his miraculous survival in the cloudburst and flash floods that took away hundreds of lives at a news meet in New Delhi on Monday afternoon, Choubey said he was feeling like a “peeved victim”.
He added that even after a year since the tragedy, it was unfortunate that the Uttarakhand government has failed to reach out to the bereaved families and has provided no justice to those who lost their close relatives.
After the natural catastrophe, the former Bihar health minister, had formed the Uttarakhand Trasdi Manch as a forum to bring together victims of the flash flood and demand compensation.
The forum would convene a meeting on Tuesday in which relatives of several victims are expected to take part. Choubey hopes to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the resolutions passed by the organisation.
“Last year, the Uttarakhand government had prevented Modiji from visiting the affected areas but now he is the Prime Minister. We expect that that the Union government would now do the needful in this case. We will meet him with the resolutions passed by the forum,” he added.
The MP, along with some of his relatives, was among the few lucky ones who survived the heavy rain and flash floods at Kedarnath temple. To survive, the group had to pile up bodies and stand on them as rainwater entered the temple’s sanctum sanctorum.
His elder son Aviral Saswat had said last year how they had been trapped for three days with the flash floods incessantly entering the temple and killing many. They had only mud water to drink, Aviral had said, when thirst became unbearable.
Choubey formed the organisation and demanded a white paper be issued with figures of the dead, missing and details of the conditions prevailing in Uttarkhand when the disaster struck and the conditions at present.
Claiming that human skeletal remains are “still lying” under the rubble in the Kedarnath valley, Choubey also demanded cases of criminal negligence be registered against those in the government who ignored warnings by the weather department.
“Even if it were the chief minister or senior officials, they should be brought to book. Even the UPA government, which formed a cabinet sub-committee under the chairmanship of Manmohan Singh never took the matter seriously. As a result, neither have most of the families (of victims) received any financial compensation nor any remedial measures been initiated to avoid such tragedies in future. Even death certificates have not been issued for all those who died,” he added.