Skeletons of 31 Kedarnath flood victims recovered
Chief Minister Harish Rawat has claimed credit for recovery of the skeletal remains following the launch of the programme ‘Hito Pahad.’
The skeletons were recovered from a forest adjoining a trekking route between Triyuginarayan and Kedarnath. Rawat said that they were first sighted by a team of trekkers who had undertaken the expedition as part of ‘Hito Pahad’ conceived by the state government.
He said a team constituted under the leadership of Garhwal IG Sanjay Gunjyal has so far recovered 31 skeletons from the area which are being consigned to flames amid necessary Hindu rituals after formalities like DNA sampling. He said the ongoing combing operation will be carried out at Triyuginarayn and areas close to it for the next ten days.
On the BJP charge that the Congress government had abruptly stopped search operations in 2013, Rawat put the blame squarely on his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, on whose orders search operations had been called off. “Those shouting from rooftops about the state government’s failure to carry out a proper search operation should pose this question to the then CM who stopped the combing operations and not me who resumed it,” Rawat told reporters without taking names.
The first round of combing operations was launched and concluded during the tenure of Rawat’s predecessor Bahuguna, who is now in the BJP.
Rawat said it was strange that combing operations meant to look for bodies in the wake of the massive tragedy were wound up without giving much thought to the possibility of skeletal remains still lying buried under lakhs of tonnes of debris brought about by the flash floods.
However, the Chief Minister made it clear that considering the massive scale of the tragedy it would never be possible for any government to confidently say that this was the last human skeleton recovered.
“I had said even earlier that there may still be skeletons still lying under tonnes of debris lying in the area. The possibility can never be ruled out. Even when the ongoing combing operation concludes we cannot say with full confidence that we have found the last human remains,” Rawat said.