Ajit dada snubs kin of missing pilgrims

After facing a storm of protest over his ‘urine’ remarks on drought situation in the state, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar yesterday invited the ire of pilgrims’ kin who have gone missing in Uttarakhand.

Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Pawar allegedly snubbed the relatives of 27 pilgrims who had gone to Chaar Dhaam in Uttrakhand through Kothrud-based Shivgauri Travels. The families has lost contact with their dear ones since last week, and had come to meet Pawar to seek his help and share their grievances at Zilla Central Bank where the minister was holding a meeting with the members of Zilla Planning Committee.

Insult to injury: Ajit Pawar leaves without meeting relatives of those stranded. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

The relatives, who had arrived at the venue around 9 am, waited for more than six hours on yesterday to meet Pawar, who’s also the guardian minister of the district. However, the minister, along with Baramati MP Supriya Sule, left the building without even casting a second look at them.

Enraged, the relatives gheraoed NCP workers and demanded an explanation for Pawar’s irresponsible behavior. To avoid the situation go out of hand, local NCP leaders apologised on Pawar’s behalf and assured them that the minister will meet them, albeit for five minutes at another location where he had reached for another meeting.

Kinship: Relatives of missing pilgrims in Uttarakhand stand with photos of their loved ones at the district collector’s office. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

“Pawar’s personal secretary Nandakumar Katkar had assured us that Dada will meet us in his chamber once he finished his meetings. For him, the meetings seemed to be more important than hearing the sorrows of those who have no clue about the whereabouts of their loved ones,” said Sudhir Potale, whose parents had left for the yatra on June 12.

Face-off: The high-voltage drama (above) ended with the meeting of relatives with Baramati MP Supriya Sule (below). Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Finally, Pawar met the people in the evening and assured them that he had given orders to start the search operation again. The minister also called some of the officials who have been deployed in Uttarakhand to cater the needs of the pilgrims from the state.

During the Zilla Planning Committee meeting, Pawar had said that the state government had sent two helicopters to Uttarakhand, but the rescue team there sent one chopper back. “A team of doctors has already been sent to Gaurikund and we have also started a helpline. Besides, the state government had given Rs 10 crore as the aid for the pilgrims,” Pawar said. 

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