Millennium Post

Why Kamta Prasad threw his mother’s body in Mandakini

Kamta Prasad, a resident of Pandav Nagar in east Delhi had taken a month’s leave to fulfil the wish of his ageing parents - that of a Char Dham Yatra, or pilgrimage with his family. But the trip ended on a tragic note, with the death of his mother in flood-hit Uttarakhand and Prasad heaving to throw her body in the angry waters of the Mandakini, after holding on to it for five days in the hope of being able to perform her last rites.  

'We were stuck in Bhairon Chatti, while on our way back from Kedarnath. We were soaked through because of the torrential rain and my mother became critically ill. I ran from one shop to another for medicine, but could not save her. She died on the evening of 17 June,' said Kamta Prasad (47), while speaking to Millennium Post on Wednesday. 'We preserved her body for five days, in the hope that I’d be able to perform her last rites, but members of the rescue team said that carrying the dead body was not possible. They advised us to throw the body in the Mandakani river and we had no option but to follow their orders,' he added.

Prasad was with a group of 12 pilgrims,  that included his father, mother, wife, two sons and one daughter.
'We purchased some biscuits for the children and collected rain water for drinking. We used the water collected in the potholed roads,' said Sunita (42), his wife. 'There was death everywhere. People were climbing on hills to escape the flood and falling to their deaths as they lost their grips. I myself saw several men, women and children falling down thousands of feet,' he recalls.

Relief came in the form of a team of NDRF and IAF officers near Bhairon Chatti. 'We helped the rescue team to construct a helipad but it was washed away. Another helipad was constructed on the same sight and rescue operation was restarted,' said Rameshwar (35), another member of the team.

'The people were in a rush to board the helicopter, forcing the rescue team to make separate queues for women and old people, who were to be air lifted on priority basis,'added Rameshwar.
Survivors also recall how the food packets dropped by the rescue team was of little help.
 ‘The packets would tear and water would seep in. There was almost a stampede when any un-damaged packet was found,’ said one.
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