Rahul treks to Kedarnath, pays respect to flood victims

RSTV Bureau

rahulCongress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday trekked to holy Kedarnath shrine and said he was here to pay his respects to the victims of the 2013 floods in the region and did not ask for anything.

Trekking a distance of 16 km to reach the shrine, Gandhi said that though he did not ask for anything at the shrine, he felt a “fire-like” energy after entering the holy portals.

The Congress Vice President said his motive to come here was to pay respect to the people who had lost their lives in 2013 flashfloods and to support those who work here to earn their livelihood in such an extreme terrain.

“In 2013 I came here and saw myself what happened here…I thought the way those pilgrims came here, I should come here the same way”, said Gandhi.

“Lot of people work here. Porters are here, they have carried your cameras here. They carry things and people. They are facing a lot of difficulties and are in fear. They are in fear because a tragedy had occurred here and also the tourists who come here are facing a lot of discomfort and fear”, he added.

Asked what wish he had asked in the temple, Gandhi said he did not ask for anything.

“Usually when I go to a temple I don’t wish for anything. That is my habit I don’t ask. I went to the temple and did not ask anything. But I went inside I experienced some fire-like energy,” he said.

Praising the restoration and rehabilitation work done by the Uttarakhand government in the flood-ravaged hills, Rahul Gandhi said “After the tragedy, officers, army, police personnel, workers all have done a good job. The roads have been built well, arrangements are good,” he said.

He also supported the Chief Minister’s idea to construct more helipads.

“CM’s idea of a helipad is something good; I feel should be in other states as well. There should be helipads at several places so that if we want to evacuate, it can be done easily,” he said.

Construction of more helipads would also boost tourism, Gandhi said.

Describing the arrangements for the Kedarnath yatra as “full-fledged”, he said the yatra is safe and the pilgrims should take full advantage of it.

Earlier this morning, Gandhi along with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and the party’s state unit chief Ambika Soni reached Kedarnath as the doors of the shrine were opened to the devotees amid elaborate rituals.

Gandhi and other Congress leaders had on Thursday  embarked on the 10 km long trek to Lincholi where they stopped for the night. They then undertook a 6 km trek to reach the Kedarnath.