Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu informed that over 45,000 mutation cases were settled during 'Revenue Lok Adalats' in the state.
27 deaths on August 14 are symbolic of the havoc monsoon rains caused in the entire state of Himachal
It was supposed to be a pious occasion for the Sharma family who had organised a ‘havan’ (a fire ritual to invoke the God) at the Shiv Temple in Summer Hill, Shimla on August 14. Though, the previous day the rains had been incessant, in the morning the drizzle had stopped.
The seven members of the family had barely walked into the temple accompanied by a few neighbours invited for the ‘havan’ when a massive landslide resulted in the uprooting of trees and the temple got buried.
Pawan Sharma, 65, the family patriarch, and six other members lost their lives in it. In all, 20 people died then and there. His relative Mohit Sharma says, “The bodies of Pawan, one of his grand-daughter and another relative Neeraj’s body are yet to be recovered.”
Mohit’s voice turns sombre when he recalls that phone call. “I was about to leave for the office when the phone buzzed. The words ‘landslide’ and ‘buried’ were enough for me to make a dash to the Shiv Mandir. When I reached, I realised that our world had come to an end.”
70-year-old Mohan Thakur narrowly escaped death. He was getting ready to go to the temple when he came to know that the temple had been buried.
“My initial reaction was that another temple which had recently been built had been buried. But when I was apprised that my son Sanjay Thakur, 48, died in that apocalyptic moment, I knew it was at Shiv Mandir.”
Sanjay used to go to that temple for the past 25 years, especially, during the month of ‘savaan’. Sanjay’s wife and eight-year-old son along with other family members were about to join him at the temple. His wife will always be thankful for not being on time and finding herself alive. However, she will have to deal with the absence of her husband.
Sanjay’s childhood friend Neeraj Thakur also lost his life in the temple debris. Neeraj’s body too hasn’t been found yet. Sanjay and Neeraj were not just friends but business partners. If there was uncanny similarity to their lives, the same is true about their death as well. They leave behind their spouses both of whom are lecturers and both have a son each.
Fortunate to escape death were some who were taking off their shoes before going into the temple.
In all, 17 bodies have been extricated from the debris of the landslide. Three are stuck in the debris nine days after the tragedy.
On the same day, about 150 km away, in a similar tragedy at Saat Meel near Pandoh in Mandi district of Himachal, seven more people died after a cloud burst. 39-year-old Anju a mother of four daughters says, ”One of my daughters Monica who is married in Sambhal village rushed to fetch her 6-year-old baby sleeping inside when the cloud burst. Monica never came out.”
She got buried under the debris of her own house as big boulders crushed everything. Anju says, “We go every day to the site to check if her body has been recovered, but return empty-handed.”
“Though her husband received Rs 40,000 as compensation, I only want to see my daughter’s face one last time, “says the distraught mother.