New Delhi: Over 1,500 Indian pilgrims undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra are stranded in Nepal due to heavy rain and bad weather. The Indian embassy has sought assistance from Kathmandu to evacuate them.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said about 525 pilgrims are stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 are stuck in Tibet side.
She said India has requested the Nepal government for army helicopters to evacuate stranded Indian nationals.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj said India has set up hotlines for pilgrims and their family members who will be provided information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages.
“Indian Embassy in Nepal has deployed representatives in Nepalganj and Simikot. They are in touch with the pilgrims and ensuring that food and lodging facilities are available to all the pilgrims,” Swaraj said.
In Simikot, the minister said, a health check up has been carried out on all the elderly pilgrims and they are being provided required medical help.
“In Hilsa we have requested police authorities for necessary assistance,” she said.
The state government officials spoke to a few stranded pilgrims. Since many of the pilgrims are from Karnataka, the state government said all the pilgrims from the state are safe. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has also asked officials from his government to help the pilgrims from the state who are stranded in Simikot. Another group of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, travelling to Kailsh Mansarovar via Uttarakhand, are standard in Pithoragarh.
In Nepal’s Simikot, Indian embassy officials are providing medical help to all the elderly pilgrims. Bad weather in the mountainous region is hampering the efforts to find alternative routes for evacuating the Indian. It will also look into the possibility of evacuation by helicopters for critical cases, a source in the Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office said.
A Twitter user informed the Indian embassy that several Indians have been strnade din Simikot for the five days. The embassy tweeted, “Mission is aware of the situation and is taking all necessary action for safety and comfort of the pilgrims.”
The Indian embassy’s emergency helpline number in Kathmandu is +977 985-1107006.
Sources said the Indian Embassy in Nepal have asked all tour operators to try and hold pilgrims back in Tibet side as far as possible since the medical and civic facilities on Nepal side are inadequate.
They said the mission is looking at various alternatives to evacuate the stranded people from Simikot, including through separate routes.
The pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibetan region of China is considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Every year, hundreds of Indians undertake the ‘yatra’ which involves trekking under inhospitable conditions. Kailash Mansarovar is believed to be the seat of lord Shiva. Pilgrims travel at high altitudes of 19,500 feet. The traditional trekking route is inhospitable and rugged.
(With agency inputs)