After facing a storm of protest following his ‘urine’ remark a few months ago, Pawar yesterday invited the ire of kin of pilgrims who have gone missing in the Uttarakhand catastrophe.
The Maharashtra deputy CM allegedly snubbed the relatives of 27 pilgrims who had visited Chaar Dhaam in Uttarakhand through Kothrud-based Shivgauri Travels. The families had lost contact with them since last week, and had come to meet the minister to seek his help and share their grievances with him at Zilla Central Bank where the minister was holding a meeting with the members of Zilla Planning Committee.
But while the relatives were waiting for more than six hours to meet Pawar and share their grievances, the NCP leader simply walked out of the government building without even casting a second look at them. A high-voltage drama ensued where the relatives gheraoed NCP workers demanding explanation for their leader’s irresponsible behaviour. The party workers, however, said that Pawar forgot to meet the victims and also apologised on his behalf. After much hue and cry, Pawar agreed to parley with them for five minutes, but not before asking the relatives to travel another five kilometres to a different venue.
“I sent a message to Pawar’s personal secretary Nandakumar Katkar, who assured us that dada will meet us in his chamber once he was finished with his meetings. However, it seems that the conferences were more important for him than listening to our sorrows,” said Sudhir Potale, whose parents had gone to visit Chaar Dhaam on June 12 and are yet to return. Pawar then assured the relatives that he had given an order to once again start the search operation for the missing pilgrims in Gaurikund. He also called up some officials who are deployed in Uttarakhand to cater to the needs of the pilgrims.
Previously, in the Zilla Planning Committee meeting, while answering a query regarding the same issue, Pawar said that the state government had sent two helicopters. However, the rescue team over there sent one back. “A team of doctors had already been dispatched to Gaurikund and helpline numbers have also been started. Besides, the state government had also donated Rs 10 crore as aid for the pilgrims,” he maintained.