By Harmesh Sidher
Men come and go but mountains stay, perhaps not in this case. This is a story from most underdeveloped and remote area in Uttar Pardesh, India. Vivek Canada is operating five schools in the Puranpur tehsil in the district of Pilibhit, UP. We got these pictures and story from our staff working in this area. With the over flow of Ganges and Sharda rivers the Puranpur tehsil situated about 500 km from Badrinath was also flooded. Eight days after the onset of Himalayan Tsunami, villagers found a body floating in the flood waters and thus informed the Sarpanch who accordingly reported to the police. Ironically, the police told them to throw the body back in to the river or bury it somewhere and keep your mouth shut. As expected, more bodies started showing, so I asked the staff to go out there along with the police and send us the pictures for uploading on the Google online resource facility to help people find their dead ones. Unfortunately the police refused to cooperate even though we were paying all the expenses. Interestingly, they realized someone is watching their actions and thus started collecting and informing the statistics to the district authorities. So far they have collected eleven dead bodies and still counting but no one is allowed to take pictures.
In the coming months, probably the water in the rivers will come down to the normal seasonal levels but the politics of blame and accusations has already started.
In Uttrakhand, the state Speaker of the house Govind Singh Kunjwal said that the death toll in the state could go up to 10,000 but the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, disputes this figure. I don’t think any body ever will be able to find out the exact numbers as so many of the bodies will be washed away through Brumputra into the Bay of Bengal.
In New Delhi, political warring continues with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj saying the Congress government in Uttarakhand is “inept and incompetent” and must be dismissed.
Come on you politicians, people have lost their love ones. India has lost its most sacred Hindu shrines such as Kedarnath and Badrinath, and you are blaming each other instead of showing some sympathy and facing this historical natural calamity collectively. You will have enough time for this because the recovery and redevelopment will take decades. In the mean time, the people, communities, corporate world and religious bodies should come forward and don’t expect the Governments to do every thing. Just remember that the whole world is watching, do it for your faith and pride. This may be a golden opportunity to make people work together for a national cause.
(Harmesh Sidher, is the president of Vivek Canada and board member of BC Council for International Cooperation).