Jammu: Jammu-based Rohit Jandyal and his three other friends, like hundreds of other pilgrims, encountered death from a very close range around the Amarnath cave shrine area on July 8 evening for 25 minutes of flash floods and mudslides following thunderstorms and heavy rains. The unfortunate evening consumed 16 lives.
However, Jandyal and his friends Surinder Sharma, Lalit Khajuria and Amit Ajravat and many other pilgrims were fortunate enough to have survived and returned back to their native places, without paying respects at the cave shrine.
Their evacuation could not have been possible without the help of J&K Police and security forces, who risked their lives to rescue trapped pilgrims, say the survivors.
“I along with my friend were heading for darshan and we were almost near the shrine when we noticed a change in atmosphere. It was horrifying while witnessing thundering and heavy rainfall as water started gushing out in the shape of flash flood and it washed away tents in the low-lying areas,” said Jandyal while speaking to Greater Kashmir.
“It cannot be explained in words what we faced but we thought it was our last day. Our eyes were stuck and hearts sunk with the situation that turned from bad to worse. However, the security force personnel sensed trouble and they ran towards the pilgrims and advised them to move to safer places.” “Spiritual spirit of yatra helped us survive nature’s fury,” he said.
“As we were close to the holy cave, the troops without carrying for their lives helped the pilgrims to move upward. Those pilgrims in the camps were helped to shift to safer places as we witnessed tents with pilgrims and community kitchens being washed away by the flash flood/mudslides,” Jandyal said.
After 25 minutes of the devastating following cloudburst, the rains stopped gradually when we witnessed the destruction all around. “I saw two bodies of pilgrims in mud and the security force personnel were trying to recover them from that place,” he said.
He further said that, “Two of our friends were close to the helipad area. Fortunately, they too survived. Later, we joined them and with the help of security force personnel, we moved away from the danger zone and walked away towards Sangam base camp after covering around 5 kms of distance (sharp slope) on foot in the dangerous muddy strip of mountain amid darkness of night with fear and uncertainty,” he said.
“We were close to the shrine but were not able to do darshan due to the worsening weather condition like hundreds of other pilgrims. They too were shifted to the safer places immediately. The route from Panjtarni to Bhawan was very congested and at that time, it was very difficult to walk on the track,” he recalled.
He said that the security force personnel deployed there from J&K Police, Army and other paramilitary forces must be awarded for their presence of mind and bravery and the administration should plan camp areas in much safer zones in a scattered manner.