The Uttarakhand government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident in Uttarkashi district in which 25 persons from Madhya Pradesh’s Panna district died after the bus carrying them fell into a 250-metre deep gorge on Sunday.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to each of the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), the Madhya Pradesh government has announced Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to each of the injured. The Uttarakhand government also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
While five injured in the incident were shifted to Dehradun for treatment, a special Army helicopter is bringing the bodies of the deceased to Khajuraho airport in Madhya Pradesh, from where it will be sent to their respective families for cremation.
On Monday, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan inspected the accident site and talked to the relatives of deceased Ramsakhi and Banke Bihari. The two chief ministers also talked to some passengers from Madhya Pradesh who traveled in another bus.
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A statement issued by the Uttarakhand government said all bodies were recovered from the gorge on Sunday night. “The process of post-mortem was completed in the night itself. The bodies have been sent to Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun… CM Pushkar Singh Dhami has ordered a magisterial inquiry,” said the statement.
On Sunday evening, the bus carrying devotees to Yamunotri Dham fell into a gorge around 4 km ahead of Damta under Purola police station in Uttarkashi. According to the police, prima facie it appears that the bus was speeding as it tore through the crash barriers and hit a pine tree, before plunging into the gorge.
Jagdish Sharma, a farmer from Kunwarpur Mohandra village in Panna, said his father Badri Prasad Sharma (63) and mother Chandrakali Sharma (61) are among the deceased. “On Sunday evening, I saw in the news that a bus with pilgrims from my district fell into a gorge. As my parents and members of my sister’s family were also on a tour, we started trying to find out more. I tried to make calls to everyone whom I thought could help. A few hours later, I got a call from the phone belonging to my sister’s mother-in-law, Shakuntala Pandey. An Uttarakhand Police officer informed us that the phone was found at the site of the accident,” he said.
Shakuntala Pandey and her husband Awadhesh Pandey are also among the deceased. The four relatives were on their first visit to Uttarakhand. “After a detailed list of the deceased was released by the government, all our fears came true. I lost both my parents. My sister lost her in-laws. Later, we got calls from several local officers who assured us of every possible help. We expect to get the bodies by around 8 pm,” added Sharma.
Among the injured are Uday Singh (62), a teacher at a government primary school in Panna, and his 60-year-old wife. While Singh has suffered three fractures in his leg and one in his ribs, his wife has fractures in her nose and an arm. Both have been admitted to Max Hospital in Dehradun.
Talking to The Indian Express, their son Krishna Pratap Singh said the couple, along with 56 others from Panna, registered for the religious tour around 20 days ago and took a sleeper bus from Panna to Haridwar via Chitrakoot and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. As larger buses cannot traverse the mountain roads leading to Uttarkashi, the 58 pilgrims booked two smaller buses. The bus that fell in the gorge had 28 passengers, along with two staff members, while the other bus had the remaining 30 passengers.