A number of pilgrims from West Bengal who were on their way to the Amarnath cave shrine remained stranded at various points on Sunday, some of them desperate to return while others are hoping to resume their journey.
Many from West Bengal could not be traced till Sunday evening. Calls from family members of stranded pilgrims from across the state poured in at the Nabanna control room throughout the day, state government officials said.
They said they were unable to contact their family members or relatives since a cloudburst triggered a flash flood near the cave shrine in Kashmir on Friday.
At least one person from West Bengal had died in the flash flood.
Some of the callers are telling the officials that the missing relative about whom they had enquired a few hours ago had been traced.
“The situation is dynamic. It is very difficult to say exactly how many people are missing,” said an official.
There was no official communication on the number of people from Bengal who went on Amarnath Yatra and how many were missing till Sunday evening.
Metro spoke to several men and women who are stuck at different locations on their way to the shrine.
Tapas Bhattacharya, who is part of a group of 13 from Naihati, in North 24-Parganas district, around 45km north of Kolkata, was camping at Panchtarani, hoping to resume their uphill journey once the weather gets better.
“We are only six kilometres from the Amarnath cave. We may not get another opportunity to visit the cave. We have decided to stay back for at least one or two more days before deciding to return,” Bhattacharya said.
Other group members said they were not prepared for an emergency like this and were paying Rs 550 for a tent daily and Rs 100 for one bucket of hot water. The group has a Class X student.
Seven friends had left the city for Kashmir on July 2. They have changed their plans following the natural calamity and decided to cut short their trip.
Bipul Ghosh, from Dakshindari in Ultadanga, said they had decided to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu, instead of the Amarnath cave.
“We have learned that the weather will not improve in a week. So, we have decided to travel to Vaishno Devi, instead of Amarnath,” Ghosh said.
One of the team members, Subhradev Pan, is from Purulia.
Shila Singh, 70, and her daughter Jhuma Singh, 45, who were missing till Saturday, were traced on Sunday, said a family member. They were accompanied by Jhuma’s younger sister Prity Manna, 43.
“I have spoken with my wife. They have reached Jammu in the morning and will return to Kolkata as soon as there is an arrangement for them,” said Prity’s husband Sekhar Manna.
Officers of the Howrah City Police said they had learnt that a family from Shibpur was safe. “Jayanta Panja, wife Papia and their daughter Oindrila, who are residents of Naskar Para Lane in Shibpur, are safe and will return soon,” an officer said.
Four men from Girish Park and Ultadanga – Pradip Singh, Sandip Singh, Bimal Mandal and Manoj Mandal – have decided to wait for another three days before taking a final decision.
Archana Singh, wife of Pradip Singh, who runs an autorickshaw garage in central Kolkata, said she was in touch with her husband and they were safe.
“I am not sure about their exact location. But he told me they had food and they were safe. They will wait for another three days,” Archana told The Telegraph on Sunday afternoon.