ONE-YEAR-OLD STRANDED AFTER STAMPEDE
Anandpur Sahib August 4:
Clutching a biscuit in her right hand and with a murmur of 'mum mum' on her lips, a toddler anxiously awaits to be in the arms of her parents at Naina Devi Temple in Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh.
No one knows yet whether her parents had met a tragic end in yesterday's stampede at the temple which killed more than 146 lives and injured several others. And none has come forward to claim the child. The one-year-old keeps looking at the eyes of strangers hoping to find that flicker of acquaintance. And sitting on the lap of a temple attendant, she frantically calls out "mum mum" in her barely meaningful syllables.
A doctor, summoned by the Naina Devi Temple Trust after the child was found unattended, said the infant was unconscious at the time when he examined her, but regained consciousness after a while and has since then she has been on the "look out" for her parents. The infant had sustained a minor bruise on her right eyebrow during yesterday's incident. The temple trust has taken care of the girl at the moment.
Yesterday's tragic incident has also left the entire stretch of the town to the nearby hilltop shrine grief stricken. An old couple from Sirhind in Punjab are frantically searching for their two sons who had gone to the temple to pay obeisance while several are flocking to identify the dead and the injured. The couple lamented that they had been made to run from pillar to post, but so far authorities had not given them any clue about their missing sons.
Heartrending scenes were observed at the temple site where the victims' relatives who have come looking for their kin since yesterday. Women, in particular could be seen crying bitterly. Several volunteers were lending a helping hand during this tragic period and were reaching out to people in whatever way they can including consoling the kin who were at a loss to understand what had befallen them.
Langars were being organised and morning prayers held in this historic town, famous for its Gurudwara, in the memory of those who died in the tragedy. Nearby the temple site, piles of footwears belonging to the victims could be seen collected at a side reminding one of the horrific incident. Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, scores of pilgrims were today again heading for the temple.