On Friday morning the local shepherds told police about “some” human body in forest in Junglechatti. Intitally police thought it was a murder case.

news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30

Biswajeet Banerjee | The News Minute | June 15, 2014 | 8:13 AM IST 

The sudden recovery of 18 skeletons from a dense forest in Jungle chatti area in Kedarnath valley on Friday is a grisly reminder of the catastrophe that struck the region exactly a year back on June 15 in which at least 6000 people were washed away in flash flood questioning Government’s claims that all the bodies were recovered last year and were honourably cremated..

It was a chance recovery. On Friday morning the local shepherds told police about “some” human body in forest in Junglechatti. Intitally police thought it was a murder case. But when they reached there they were aghast to see 18 human skeletons.

“We carried out a search operation and within no time we found 15 skeletons and three dismembered dead bodies. They were all found in dense forest and probably these were the people from Punjab who were reported to be hiding there,” senior police officer Swatantra Kumar told this reporter on telephone on Saturday.

Police official recount that in June last, one Sandeep Kumar from Ludhiana, had lodged a complaint with Junglechatti police station that his 10 year old son was lost in the jungle on June 16. He took the police at the spot.

Superintendent of Police, Rudraparyag, B.J. Singh said: “The police carried out the search in that area but did not find anyone. But today at same very place the human skeletons were found. “

The police also found clothes, some utensils, slippers and a shoe of a small boy – that could be a young boy.

“The DNA has been preserved and would be tested with the family members,” Singh said.

The local police has started search operation afresh. The recovery of skeletons has revived the hope of finding the dead bodies of the people who lost their lives in the tragedy. The recovery is a stinging slap on the face of Congress government which had claimed that all the bodies have been disposed off.

“This Congress Government has never claimed that skeletons could not be found in near future from tragedy hit place. This was a devastating tragedy. Many more skeletons may be found buried under boulders,” Chief Minister Uttarakhand Harish Rawat told reporters in Dehradun.

The news has brought wrinkles on the forehead of the officers responsible for the Char dham Yatra – the pilgrimage to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri – as they believe it would detest people from coming to this place. The inflow of pilgrimage is already in trickle. Till now just 22,000 people have visited Kedarnath – whereas in June 15 last year over a lakh people were in Kedarnath valley when this tragedy struck.

“The decline is to the tune of almost 75 per cent,” district magistrate Rudraparyag Dr Raghav Langar said.

Even the local business is started feeling the pinch. “The inflow of tourists is very low this time. Our business has been affected this time,” Virendra Singh Patwal, owner of stationary shop said.

Exactly a year back when the glacial lake in Kedarnath valley busted open following a cloud bust, heavy boulders along with slush rolled down from the mountain and flattened whatever came on their way. It rained continuously for three days which flooded two major rivers of the region Mandakini and Alakhnanda. The flooding washed away roads and nearly two dozen bridges demolished 365 houses and partially damaged 275 others in Uttrakhand.

Government does not have the record as how many people actually died in this tragedy. The officials say around a thousand bodies have been recovered in Kedarnath valley and over 5700 people are still missing. This missing list includes pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Locals say bodies were still found rotting in the debris that is strewn around.

The tell-tale signs of destructions are still there. The damaged houses on the bank of river Alakhnanda in Govindnagari are testimony of the fury of flooding water. Majority of the foot bridges have been washed away leaving locals to cross the river on make-shift ropeway. Number of rock-fall and landslide prone areas has increased making driving very dangerous on these roads.

Army and paramilitary soldiers and volunteers rescued more than 100,000 people who were stranded in remote areas cut off by washed-out roads and landslides.

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